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-M.en and J. heir Work 

JVLen and X heir Work 

by Everett Cherrington Hughes 

The Free Press of Glencoe 
Collier-Macmillan Limited, London 

Copyright 1958 by The Free Press, A Corporation 
Printed in the United States of America 


L. C. Catalog Card No. 58-6483 
Second Printing July 1964 

Collier-Macmillan Canada, Ltd., Toronto, Ontario 


My Two Helens 


My Two Elsies 




Preface 7 

1. Cycles, Turning Points, and Careers 11 

2. Personality Types and the Division of Labor 23 

3. Work and the Self 42 

4. Institutional Office and the Person 56 

5. Social Role and the Division of Labor 68 

6. Licence and Mandate 78 

7. Mistakes at Work 88 

8. Dilemmas and Contradictions of Status 102 

9. The Making of a Physician 116 

10. Professions in Transition 131 

11. Psychology: Science and/or Profession 139 

12. The "Gleichschaltung" of the German Statistical 

Yearbook: A Case in Professional Political 

Neutrality 145 

13. Professional and Career Problems of Sociology 157 

Postscript — Two Worlds: Social Science and 

the Cosmos 169 

Bibliography 177 

Index 181 

x ret: 


A man's work is as good a clue as any to the course of his 
life, and to his social being and identity. This has been so 
longer than we sociologists, with our love of stereotypes of 
the past against which to highlight the present, allow. The 
new thing is that the number of kinds of work to be done 
is so great as to be confusing to the young person trying and, 
indeed, compelled to get into one. The changes wrought in 
known and historic occupations by new technology, new 
organization and by social movements within a man's life- 
tune — or more exactly, within his work-time — make the con- 
fusion worse confounded. One may find himself earning his 
living at work that neither he nor those who guided him 
(teachers, parents and knowing peers) had heard of when he 
was in school. He may find that the cherished object of his 
and his parents' ambition and hard work is "automated" to 
splinters; or that the profession which was to make him free 
nowadays makes him a cog in a great machine. 

Many new and some old occupations have sought for 
themserves the envied status of profession; some of them suc- 
ceed in gaining that esteem, that broad license to control 
their work and that social mandate over affairs pertaining 
to it that the term profession connotes. A man may get into 
a dying trade, an old one being transformed in its essential 
aspects, a new one on the way up, or even a new one already 
failing short of the aspirations of its still living founders and 


[ 8 ] Preface 

advocates. The resulting problems of the definition and con- 
trol of occupations and of careers of individuals are many. 
Hence, although a man's work may indeed be a good clue 
to his personal and social fate, it is a clue that leads us — 
and the individual himself — not by a clear and single track 
to a known goal, but into a maze full of dead-ends and of 
unexpected adventures. 

Of course not all, or even any great proportion, of people 
are confused unduly by the world of work, either in advance 
or as they get on into it. The bureaucratic trend has so pen- 
etrated business and industry that more and more people 
have assurance, at least on paper, of a smooth and well- 
marked march by easy stages from the high-school guidance 
office to a retirement suitable to one's achievements. Some 
of the best sociological research of recent years has had to 
do with the great bureaucratic organizations in which much 
of the work of our economy is done. One thinks of the fruit- 
ful hypotheses and findings concerning human groups which 
have emerged from study of what is commonly, though badly, 
called "restriction of production." But the trend towards large 
organizations and toward the bureaucratizing of careers does 
not do away with the struggle of the individual to find a place 
and an identity in the world of work or with the collective 
efforts of occupations to exert control over the terms of their 
work with and for others. 

It is with these latter problems that the papers in this 
volume are concerned; with the social psychological, rather 
than with the organizational aspects of work; and with the 
professional and would-be professional rather than with the 
industrial and bureaucratic occupations. This is so, not by 
design (although I have left out some papers on industrial 
problems), but by the accident — if it be one — of the bent of 
my own work. Yet I think it can fairly be said of the papers 
that they clearly imply, where they do not state, that the 
career of a man is worked out in some organized system 

PREFACE [ 9 ] 

without reference to which it cannot be described, much less 
understood; and that the career of an occupation consists of 
changes of its internal organization and of its place in the 
division of labor of which society itself consists. 

The papers do not so much report the details of research 
as discuss ideas which grew out of whatever study or series 
of studies I was working on at the time. The late Professor 
Robert E. Park asked me, then a graduate student, to write 
a paper on my not yet finished study of the attempt of real 
estate men to gain power and the status of a profession; the 
result was "Personality Types and the Division of Labor." 
One of the latest, " The Making of a Physician," was a state- 
ment designed to get support of a foundation for study of a 
medical school. The foundation was not impressed, but four 
of us, myself and colleagues (two of whom were once my 
students) are in the exciting midst of the study (thanks to 
support from a more modest quarter). 

My debts lie, therefore, in two directions. I was greatly 
taught and greatly encouraged by Professors Small, Park 
and Faris and continue to be so by my teacher and colleague, 
Professor Burgess. But those best of all colleagues, my stu- 
dents, have also encouraged me by their interest; and, better- 
ing their instruction, they continue to teach me. I have 
exploited their observations and their ideas in these papers, 
probably even more than I know. May these papers suggest 
still new and fruitful studies to still other students who will 
become colleagues. 

My apologies are due the reader for not including refer- 
ence to many recent important articles and books on profes- 
sional and other kinds of work. The bibliography includes 
only those things referred to in the original articles here 

Everett Cherrington Hughes 

Cycles, Turning Points, 
and Careers 

Every man is born, lives, and dies in historic time. As he 
runs through the life-cycle characteristic of our species, each 
phase of it joins with events in the world. In our society, the 
successive phases of his life tend to be defined in terms of his 
relations to the world of school and work: pre-school, school, 
work, and retirement. But some people come to the age of 
work when there is no work; others when there are wars. A 
man may learn the trade of, say, furrier; start a small shop 
in a solid city neighborhood only to have technological and 
economic changes make him and the shop slightly obsolete 
and to have his customers desert to the suburbs when he is 
too old to learn the new techniques and to raise the new 
capital required for a smart suburban shop, yet too young to 
retire decently. Such joining of a man's life with events, 
large and small, are his unique career, and give him many 
of his personal problems. 

But not all of a man's life is his work; and not all of it 

The main body of this paper was prepared for the Eighth Annual Con- 
ference on Theology in Action, Adelynrood, South Byfield, Mass., Septem- 
ber, 1950, and was published by the National Council of the Episcopal 
Church, as a Faculty Paper, in 1952, with the title Cycles and Turning 
Points. It is here reprinted with permission. 


[ 12 ] Men and Their Work 

is unique in the sense of being very different from the courses 
of other men's lives. There is a certain order in the lives of 
men in a society. Some of the ordering is open, intentional, 
and institutionalized; some of it happens without people quite 
knowing it until it is turned up by investigation. The ordering 
in our society, as I have mentioned above, is very much a 
matter of a man's relation to the world of work. It is also 
true that our institutions of work are highly developed and 
are, in unusual measure, formally separated from others. 
There are a time and a place for work; times and places for 
family life, recreation, religion, and politics. The mood and 
frame of mind of the place of work are supposed to be dif- 
ferent from those of the rest of life. The study of the more 
or less orderly and predictable course of a man's work life 
has become a major concern of several branches of academic 
endeavor. Some of the essays which follow in this volume 
have to do with careers in just this sense. This essay, however, 
treats of the phases and turning points of a man's whole life. 
It is included in a volume of essays on work just because it 
does see a man's life as a whole, of which his work is but 
one facet. 

Every culture develops a calendar; some cycle of days, 
moons, positions of sun and stars, or rain and drought, heat 
and cold, of plenty and want; of germination, growth, and 
harvest of plant; of breeding, birth, growth and migration 
of the animals upon which they depend. These cycles of 
nature are interlaced with man's cycle of work and play 
and with his movements from place to place. Anthropol- 
ogists have given us a rich body of descriptions of these 
cycles among the peoples of the world and of the myriad rites, 
festivals, exorcisms, and the like which mark their turning 
points. They tell us of cycles of mood as well as of natural 
occurrence, of periods of black despair followed by gay re- 
newal of life and hope. A tribe may, with its most powerful 
rites, compel the sun to stop his flight to the south and to 


turn northward so as to bring summer again. It may combine 
abstinence, fasting, and repentance of sin with its most im- 
pressive ceremonials to make the rains come after seasonal 
drought or to make them stop ere the earth dissolve in 
moisture. We are all aware of the way in which the ancient 
cycle of solstice and equinox has become woven into the Chris- 
tian calendar. Whether the rites which accompany the turning 
of the wheel of time among so many of the peoples of the world 
are of the essence of religion or not, certainly one cannot 
say much about religions without taking the calendar of rites 
into account. And certainly no people has for long lived with- 
out some established groupways which turn with the sun. 

All cultures also recognize and mark in various ways the 
biological life-cycle of the human individual. Birth is attended 
by rites which acknowledge the social existence of the infant, 
and make him a member of his kin-group and of his com- 
munity. At the same time, his parents are ritually made into 
father and mother and assume responsibility for developing 
and training their offspring into good members of the com- 
munity. Further rites often occur at puberty, when member- 
ship in one sex or the other becomes a more fateful matter; 
or when a boy is ready to go to sea, to war, or to the hunt 
with adult males. Entering upon a trade, marrying, growing 
old, and dying are also celebrated. These are all cases of 
passage from one status to another, from one patterned com- 
bination of duties and privileges, with its attendant perils and 
joys, to another. After the phrase of van Gennep, they have 
come to be called rites de passage, rites of transition. Some- 
times the transition from one status to another is considered 
of such import that the candidate is given special instructions 
in the canons of conduct appropriate to his new estate. He 
may be sent upon a lonely journey in search of a vision, 
separated from other people and ordinary activities for a time, 
subjected to severe ordeals and bound by solemn vows. He 
may be made symbolically to die as a child and to be born 

[ 14 ] Men and Their Work 

again as a man. Finally he may appear again in the world 
transfigured, in a new costume and like St. Paul, bearing a 
new name. 

Not only is the biological life-cycle of the individual thus 
related to the corresponding social cycle of his standing in 
society, but account is also taken of occasional cycles of mood 
and condition, that is, of the things which, while not so fixed 
in their order as are birth, puberty, aging and death, are 
pretty sure to happen to all men, life and human nature being 
what they are. One may violate a tabu, commit a sin, or do 
an injury to another. A man may have been ill and in his fever 
may have seen the spirits of the dead. A woman may be 
bereft of the man whose bed and board she shared so closely 
that they were as one life. These things alienate one from 
other men and women, and from the routine and banality 
of life. Many societies have institutionalized this alienation. 
In India the widow jumped into the funeral pyre and joined 
her husband in death. More commonly, there are rites for 
bringing the person, in due time, back into the world. In 
French Canada, a young widow mourns her young husband 
for a time, starting with the severest of black costume and 
gradually returning to one which suggests that though she be 
a woman with a sorrow, her youth, attractiveness, and fruit- 
fulness are not to be wasted. There is a period and a depth 
of mourning appropriate to every age and state of the mourner 
and the mourned, and to every degree of kin. In some societies, 
mourning is brought to an end after a stated period, and in 
a ceremonial way. The bereaved arises, puts on new garments, 
and goes among men again. 

How well, in each case, does the proper institutional ex- 
pression suit the felt grief of the bereaved individual? How 
often is it a hypocritical cover? How often a woefully insuf- 
ficient expression of deep feeling? How often does the fixed 
penance for sin really liquidate the sense of guilt? How often 
is the rite gone through with defiant unrepentance? These are 


appropriate questions, but one cannot answer them in the 
mass. I suppose that if the instituted rites no longer correspond 
fairly well to the cycles and degrees of feeling accompanying 
the crises they are intended to carry one over, one would have 
to say that something is out of joint in society; that is, if the 
psychological reality and the social institution are no longer 
in some good functioning relation to one another. However 
that may be, there is one great thing to be said for conven- 
tional and instituted rites for carrying people over such crises, 
and for passing them on from one state of life to another; 
namely, that so long as the rites are practised there is no 
attempt to deny the realities of the human life-cycle, and the 
contingencies and changes of status that occur during it, and 
there is no pretense that the rhythms of mood, of guilt, of 
unhappiness and grief do not occur. I am afraid that many 
of us, in our culture and in our time, do try to deny these 
things, to exorcise the reality by the negative rite of looking 
firmly in the opposite direction so as to pretend nothing is 

The number of phases of the social life-cycle varies from 
society to society and may be altered by social changes of 
many kinds. The passage from one phase to another may 
be obscured or prolonged. In our society, the ages of entering 
and leaving school and of going to work and supporting one's 
self have been undergoing great change. We are far from the 
simple state of rural Quebec where a boy is a man when, for 
the first time, he goes to the field and handles a team of horses. 
On that day, when he comes in to dinner he eats with the 
men and, before returning to the field, hauls down a pipe 
from the rack near the kitchen stove and smokes a pipeful 
of home-grown, home-cured tobacco, even if it nearly kills 
him. With us, a man's graduation from college or professional 
school may be attended by his own children. A physician, on 
the average, does not make ends meet until he is past thirty 
years of age. It is therefore difficult to say when childhood 

[16] Men and Their Work 

ceases, when adolescence begins and ends, when one is really 
adult. The onset and the risks of middle age are altered by 
technological and social change. The functions of old age 
are perhaps less clearly defined than ever before, in spite of 
the fact that there is an increasing tendency to standardize 
the age of retirement from work and the movement to provide 
pensions and thus economic security for all people. 

As for marriage, the women of our time run a greater 
risk of having no man at all than have the women of any 
other civilization; yet they are completely without ritual de- 
fences and without clear definitions and rationalizations of 
their enforced celibacy. It may be the confusion of age lines, 
the lack of moments of clear-cut change, which makes us a 
bit unwilling to recognize the turns from one life-phase to 
another. That we are loathe to recognize many of the crucial 
turnings is, I think, beyond dispute. And we much dislike to 
mark one age from another by costume and ornament, or by 
terms of address and etiquette. And, while the psychiatrist 
is familiar with the private rituals by which people try to 
reduce their sense of guilt, we are especially loathe to recog- 
nize it socially as something requiring periodic public cere- 
monial liquidation. And as Margaret Mead has pointed out, 
we even try to do away with death. The modern hospital, 
in its anxiety to appear to be a place where all patients get 
well, refuses to allow relatives to gather for a ceremonial 
parting from a loved one, and condemns the dying to sanitary 
solitude. If there be any triumph in death, our generation 
will not be there to see it. As for mourning, we are so fearful 
of wearing sorrow upon our sleeves, that we eat our hearts 
out in a mourning which cannot be brought to a decent end, 
because it has never had a proper beginning. I have had dear 
friends who have done it so; and so has anyone who is of 
that well-meaning generation who believed that all good things 
could be attained by science and all bad things avoided by 
emancipation from old formulae and freedom from old dis- 


tinctions; the people who got it into their heads that anything 
formal is cold — not sensing that ceremonial may be the cloak 
that warms the freezing heart, that a formula may be the 
firm stick upon which the trembling limbs may lean; that it 
may be a house in which one may decently hide himself until 
he has the strength and courage to face the world again. 

How ghastly can be the smile of a suffering man who is 
pretending that all is well; how pathetic the stiff but tottering 
stance of a man who, because he does not know how to share 
his troubles with others through the historic liturgies, is about 
to break under them. How pathetic, also, the man who, in 
his time of trouble, expresses the ultimate of that individual- 
ism in which we have all been reared — the insistence that his 
troubles are so private and so unique that no social salve can 
soothe them. 

The trouble may have been that, since we believed in 
progress, in things getting better and better, we were — and 
are — unwilling to face the implication of inevitability that 
lies in a repeated rite. A rite is something which is set off, 
so to speak, by a trigger, by something which happens again 
and again. To observe a rite is a sort of confession that the 
occasion of it may happen again and again in the future as 
it has in the past. It is as if the magnitude of progressive 
changes had blinded us to the limits within which change 
occurs. The average life-expectancy of the child at birth has 
increased so marvelously that we overlook the fact that the 
oldest man alive now is probably no older than the oldest 
man alive in the days of great Caesar, and no older in medi- 
cally progressive America than in backward India. Our aver- 
age health is so good that we forget that man is as mortal 
as ever. And perversely enough, as the belief in life after 
death has declined, we have become less and less willing to 
make an occasion of death itself. Those who have the cure 
of souls in their charge — pastors, psychiatrists — can tell bet- 
ter than I what burdens break and what sicknesses ravage 

[ 18 ] Men and Their Work 

the souls of people who, in the name of self-reliance, emancipa- 
tion or progress, try to act as if there were no cycle of youth, 
maturity, old age, and death; no rhythms of inner peace and 
conflict, of guilt and freedom from guilt, of grief and of the 
healing of its wounds. 

I began with some statements concerning the calendar and 
went from that to the problem of the life cycle of the individ- 
ual. Let us return to the calendar, for the two are closely 
related. Revolutionary movements are invariably enemies of 
the existing calendar for the very good reason that the cal- 
endar embodies the social memory. Every day is rich with 
meaning; the more festive days and seasons blow into flame 
the cooling embers of sentiment. The calendar is the warp of 
the fabric of society, running lengthwise through time, and 
carrying and preserving the woof, which is the structure of 
relations among men, and the things we call institutions. 

The men of the French revolution tried to cut off the 
warp of memory by changing the names of days and even 
months; they went further, and tried to break the rhythm of 
life itself by changing the number of days in the weeks and 
of months in the years. This is a logical thing for men to do 
when they want to change society completely. Its relation to 
rites is obvious. 

Sectarian movements, bent upon religious revolution, like- 
wise attack the calendar. Insofar as purification of an ancient 
religion is their aim, they see in the calendar and the rites 
that are timed by it, the barnacles of corrupt tradition which 
have gathered upon the strong, clean hull of doctrine and 
practice. But there is another logic behind the sectarian attack. 
It is hinted at in Dom Gregory Dix's Shape of the Liturgy, 
in a magnificent chapter entitled, "The Sanctification of Time." 
The early Christians developed little in the way of a calendar 
in the centuries before Constantine. Why? Because they were 
a little band of faithful people holding themselves in constant 
readiness for the end of the old and the beginning of the new. 


They did not look back. Since the danger of death and dam- 
nation and the hope of Christ's coming were equal in all 
moments of time (Ye know not the day nor the hour), one 
had to be equally in a state of grace at all times. Hence, one 
day could be no more dedicated to the service of God than 
another. As time went on, the Christians made some peace 
with the world; as generations turned, they began to accum- 
ulate memories, to take account of rhythms and cycles, to 
recognize that some among the saints are more constant than 
others and that the best of us have our ups and downs. So 
they developed devices for meeting the recurrent smaller crises 
of life while waiting for the great final crisis. Thus it is 
with the recurring revivals and movements for the purification 
of religion. Some man, himself at white heat, conceives of a 
church of people all at constant white heat. Only those who 
are aware of their lost condition and who have consciously 
repented and believed, only those whose devotion is full and 
complete, are members of the true church. You will see this 
ideal described in John Locke's famous Letters concerning 
Toleration. It was embodied in the Quaker meeting in its 
early form. 

Since it could not be allowed that devotion could or 
should vary from moment to moment, or from day to day, 
there could be no holy days, no cycles, no calendar. Thus 
Edmund Gosse in Father and Son tells how his father, Philip 
Henry Gosse, threw into the garbage-can the Christmas pud- 
ding which a sympathetic cook had secretly prepared for the 
small boy. The father was of the Brethren who did not 
approve of special Christian days and especially hated joy- 
ous festivity in the name of religion. The ceremonies of 
renewal imply that faith and fervor cool and want reheating. 
That the true sectarian zealot cannot allow. 

Likewise, since entering the Church is purely a matter of 
reasonable conviction, it must be a single, catastrophic act 
of a person of the age called that of discretion. Hence that 

[ 20 ] Men and Their Work 

horror of infant baptism so common among strict sectarian 
groups. Edmund Gosse, again, reports his childish wondering 
about what terrifying sinful practice lay behind the mysterious 
epithet, paedo-baptist — the anxious fear that something less 
than unwavering white heat of fervor is inimical to the 
cycles of growth and changes of state implied in a series of 
rites of religious initiation and transition beginning in infancy 
or childhood. 

Now these features of early Christian and of sectarian 
mentality generally are of more than historical interest. For 
the sectarian revolt against calendars and cycles is something 
that occurs again and again. And as often as it occurs, the 
facts of life slowly or rapidly catch up with the revolting 
group. For one thing, even sectarians have children. In theory, 
these offspring of the saints may be outside the Church until 
they are violently converted at some age called that of discre- 
tion. But people are not really that hard-hearted when they 
become parents. Besides, conversion in course of time tends 
to come and to be expected to come at a certain age, usually 
adolescence. A Baptist student told me how, when he was 
fourteen, his parents and the pastor openly expected him to 
be soundly converted between Christmas and that time in the 
spring when the water would be warm enough for an open- 
air baptizing in New Brunswick. His age-mates, who were 
with him in a special class for the purpose, saw the light one 
after another. He alone got no sign from heaven. He got to 
feeling so guilty that he finally felt compelled to testify to an 
experience which he had not had. The words came easily from 
the formulae in which he had heard others tell what they had 
felt in conversion. Then for weeks, while he basked in the 
sunlight of general approval during the day, he lay awake at 
night fearing that his lie was the unpardonable sin. James 
Weldon Johnson tells a similar story of his Negro Methodist 
youth in Florida. He, too, lied, but in verse and made a career 
of it. 


One could go on with examples of the growth of cal- 
endars. The early Methodist camp-meeting and revival were 
outbreakings of the spirit, whenever and wherever it might 
please God; but in due time God pleased more and more 
often to have the camp meeting right after harvest when a 
joyous spirit coincided with a slack in the farm work, and 
to have the revival in the dead of winter when life was dark 
and dreary. Gradually the revival has merged back into Holy 
Week. The shoutings of the Negro meeting have settled into 
rhythms and chants. 

The single-minded logic of hard reason, of unwavering 
devotion, of equal sanctity of the days, gives way to the 
rhythms and cycles of birth, growth, and decline and death. 
The fanatical insistence that all men be equally strong and 
constant gives way to a measure of charity for the young and 
the weak, and to devices to bring both weak and strong back 
into grace after a fall. It is, I suppose, the dialectic of time 
and eternity, of the absolute unchanging ideal and of the 
relative changing reality. 

The manner in which any society or epoch handles this 
dialectic is one of its distinguishing marks, and is one of the 
things which will, I am convinced, determine the kinds of 
soul sickness from which its members will suffer. 

As for our own times, William Graham Sumner said of 
us even half a century ago that we no longer like to take 
vows; that is, to make commitments for ourselves. He might 
have added that, in the name of emancipation and of respect 
for the individual, we do not like to make commitments for 
others, even for our own children. And in all rites of initiation 
or transition there is commitment either for one's self or for 
someone else, or for both. I even know a woman who did 
not want to name her children more than tentatively so as 
to leave them the freedom to pick their own names to suit 
whatever notions they might get of themselves. She could 
not bear being a paedonomist, I suppose. When and if it be- 

[ 22 ] Men and Their Work 

comes possible to control the sex of unborn children, we will 
no doubt breed a generation of hermaphrodites for fear of 
committing our children to an identity and a fate not of their 

I wonder what is back of all this. Perhaps it is that sec- 
tarian Protestantism has lost the individual faith and fervor 
which allowed several magnificent generations of rugged in- 
dividualists to do without a calendar, and without the support, 
direction and comfort of liturgy and rites of passage. Without 
their faith, but with a scruple for the feelings of others, and 
especially of our own offspring, that our immediate predeces- 
sors lacked, we are unwilling to commit ourselves and even 
more unwilling to commit our children to anything, even to 
a social identity. And in so doing, we rob them of the ultimate 
inalienable right of every child: a good and sound reason 
for running away from home. That is the last indignity which 
the child-centered home heaps upon its miserable victims. 

Personality Types 
and The Division of Labor 

This essay does not have to do with personality types in the 
terms of the many tests devised by psychologists for revealing 
subtle and deep-lying as well as gross and obvious differences 
among individuals. Indeed, I doubt whether I would give 
this title to the paper if I were writing on the same problems 
now. I would not, however, give up the use of the term person- 
ality to refer to what the human being becomes when he gains 
status, not merely by being assigned to some of the major 
differentiating categories of the society in which he lives, but 
by acquiring a place in a series of sub-groups with variant 
versions and refinements of the attitudes and values of the 
prevailing culture. The division of labor provides many such 
sub-groups in which a man may live and have his being. If, 
as W. I. Thomas said, personality is the subjective aspect of 
culture, then a man's work, to the extent that it provides 
him a subculture and an identity, becomes an aspect of his 

The paper was written just as I had finished and was 
about to submit as a Ph. D. thesis, a study of the Chicago 
Real Estate Board. One might say that it rides madly off in 

The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. XXXIII (March, 1928), 754- 
768. Reprinted with modifications, by permission. 


[ 24 ] Men and Their Work 

all directions from that study, chasing one problem after 
another a little way. 

Literature and common sense, and, in these latter days, 
the press, have given us stereotyped pictures of persons en- 
gaged in various occupations: the old-maid school teacher, 
the parson, the village blacksmith, the farmer, the professor, 
the politician, the financier. All these and many other types 
so created are expected to react to the situations of life in 
characteristic manner. To many the cartoonist adds a face 
and costume. Social scientists and philosophers have taken 
the cue and have sometimes related types of men to their 
tasks, as Adam Smith in his classic paragraph on the nature 
of the differences between the philosopher and the man with 
a wheelbarrow. In common-sense discussion the question is 
not asked as to the manner in which the differences arise: it 
only talks of them as facts or fiction. 

In our branch of social science much attention has lately 
been turned to the classification of persons into types, accord- 
ing to their behavior. Some of the older classifications, as 
good and bad, criminal and and law-abiding, rich and poor, 
have been called into question — not because the classes indi- 
cated do not exist, but because they do not give sufficient 
clues to the behavior of people. Professor Ernest W. Burgess 
has undertaken to study the delinquent as a person, taking 
into account sequences of behavior, the roles assumed by the 
person in his group, the role accorded him by his group; and 
with the further provision that one take into account the group 
in which the person wishes to have status. That is to say, the 
group in which he "lives." The delinquency, or the breaking 
of the law, thus becomes a mere item in a pattern of behavior, 
and emphasis is put on the fact that this one item is not 
always the same, even when the overt act involved comes 
under a given legal category. In this is a recognition that 
behavior types do not necessarily coincide with the common- 
sense or legal definitions. 


In this paper we appear to be reverting from the position 
already gained; looking for a set of personality types in a 
classification of people according to the work they do. A 
number of questions at once arise. To what extent do persons 
of a given occupation "live together" and develop a culture 
which has its subjective aspect in the personality? Do persons 
find an area for the satisfaction of their wishes in the associa- 
tions which they have with their colleagues, competitors, and 
fellow-servants? To whose opinions is one sensitive? What 
part does one's occupation play in giving him his "life- 
organization"? 1 

A prerequisite for the answering of these questions is 
study of persons engaged in various occupations, to deter- 
mine the nature of occupational selection, and what happens 
to a person once he does find a place in the division of labor. 
A number of such studies have been undertaken. Some are 
statistical studies; others are what one might call case studies 
of occupations, as Mrs. Donovan's work on the waitress. 2 
We can go no farther in this paper than to put the problem into 
a frame of reference, and illustrate from one occupational 

Human Ecology and 
The Division of Labor 

We are indebted to Durkheim for a distinction between 
two types of social units, the social segment and the social 
organ. The social segment is that sort of minute community 
which exists in independence of all others; its members grow 
up under conditions so uniform that their consciences are 
concrete, uniform, and strong. It is also characterized by the 

1. Thomas, W. I., and Znaniecki, F. The Polish Peasant in Europe and 
America (New York, A. A. Knopf, 1927) 2d ed.; Vol. I, p. 27. 

2. Donovan, Frances R. The Woman Who Waits, Boston, 1920. 

[ 26 ] Men and Their Work 

presence of as many generations as the longevity of the group 
allows. It is different in a number of ways from all other 
communities. The individual cannot imagine any other set 
of social attitudes than the one common to the people of his 
own group. The social organ, on the other hand, is dependent 
for life upon other communities; it represents only a unit in 
the division of labor, and must engage in exchange with other 
communities. This exchange requires at least a minimum of 
understanding between the groups of communities involved. 
The division of labor represents a set of exchanges between 
communities whereby these communities become involved 
as functioning parts of a larger community. This larger com- 
munity, however, has no common conscience, or only a very 
tenuous, vague, abstract one. As the division of labor pro- 
ceeds, the life of each social organ is more conditioned by the 
others; the forces which hold it in place come to include 
neighbors as well as the soil beneath one's feet. It is this pat- 
tern of social organs, treated spatially, with which human 
ecology concerns itself. 

Sacred Division of Labor 

In the type of community which Durkheim calls a "social 
segment" the division of labor is either very simple or very 
rigid. It may be mere incident of the social organization of 
the community, consisting in sets of sacred prerogatives, as 
in the caste system, where a person is born to his trade and 
station. We may call this sort of division of labor a sacred 
one. The prerogatives of a given caste may or may not con- 
stitute a unit of technique. 

In a study of the division of labor among preliterates, 
done under the tutelage of Professor Ellsworth Faris at the 
University of Chicago, the writer isolated a set of occupations 
which he called "preliterate professions," including healers, 
performers of rituals, charmers, medicine men, etc. In them 


he found associated with a certain amount of practical tech- 
nique a great amount of secret ritual and prerogative whose 
connections with each other were traditional and arbitrary 
and fortified by taboos. In a society where the division of 
labor is of this character, its relation to personality is fairly 
obvious, especially if it include the "caste" feature of evalu- 
ation and a complete set of social relationships involved with 
it. This type of division of labor is essentially a phenomenon 
of an unchanging, immobile society. There may be a tendency 
for it to develop in a changing society, or at least to persist. 
For instance, one can think of no principle of technique 
which naturally associates the activities of the clergyman: he 
directs the business affairs of his parish, marries, baptizes, 
comforts the sad, prays for the recovery of the sick, and acts 
as interpreter of morals and theology. The functions are set 
in a traditional and somewhat arbitrary complex; they are 

As Cecil North puts it: 

"A group in which status, occupation, and culture have 
become hereditary is known as a caste. As a matter of fact, 
however, the distinction between a society based upon caste 
and one in which open classes prevail is simply one of degree. 
There are present in all societies forces which tend to crys- 
tallize the form of social institutions and social organization. 
And it is merely a question of how freely these forces have 
made themselves or worked themselves out to a logical con- 
clusion." 3 

The Secularization of 

The Division of Labor 

In contrast to this type we may characterize the division 
of labor in our world as secularized. New occupations are 
created every day, and the concatenations of functions of old 

3. North, C. C. Social Differentiation. Chapel Hill, 1926, p. 255. 

[ 28 ] Men and Their Work 

ones are subject to change. The industrial revolutions of every 
day mean to the individual that he is not sure of his job; 
or, at least, that one is not sure of one's son's job. This is true 
of whole regions, as well as of individuals; changes in transpor- 
tation, methods of production, extension of the frontiers of 
commerce do violence to the most deeply rooted and sacred 

Again North has put the point well: 

"The discovery of new territory or natural resources, 
the appearance of new inventions or new fields of industry, 
the coming of war — all tend to upset the old arrangement 
and make for an exchange of places on the social ladder. A 
high state of intelligence and communication will make it 
possible for individuals to pass up or down in the scale ac- 
cording to their abilities and character." 4 

Occupational selection becomes a major process, to which 
social organization is incidental. This selection becomes a 
fierce process which begins anew each day, atomizing families 
and tearing them loose from their soil. 

We may call the division of labor "secularized" both in 
that new occupations or units of function are developed, 
which are not hampered by tradition, and in that the persons 
who enter the occupation come without very definite, tradi- 
tional notions about the way of carrying on the occupation. 5 
We shall pursue this point further in consideration of what 
the occupational selection process is and what it does to 
the person. 

Occupational Selection 

In his recent work, Wirtchajtsleben im Zeitalter des 

4. Ibid. 

5. Sombart, Werner. Das Wirtschaftsleben im Zeitalter des Hochkapi- 
talismus (Munich, Duncker & Humblot, 1927). Erster Halbband, p. 30. 
Sombart states that "the secularization of the capitalistic spirit must be re- 
garded as one of the most important developments of modern times." It 
lets anyone try anything. 


Hochkapitalismus, 6 Sombart has made his major theme the 
selection of the leaders of industry, as well as that of the 
proletariat. The chief point in regard to the former is that 
the life-histories of a very large percentage of them show 
small beginnings. The corporation and the credit system have 
made this possible. This fact of democratization does not 
mean an increase in the chances of the person of low degree 
to rise in the economic and social scale so much as an ac- 
celeration of change, the disappearance of old occupations, 
and the rise of new ones. Sombart makes this clear in his 
consideration of the sources of the proletariat. The proletar- 
iat comes from the ranks of those, says he, who have been 
dislodged from their traditional places on the soil, and from 
those whose birth and family do not presume for them any 
place in the economic system except a place which the individ- 
ual himself may find. Selection of occupations of the prole- 
tarian sort depends largely on time and place availability, 
both of the job and the person who fills it. North concludes 7 
that "the determination of the precise task that most individ- 
uals perform within the larger class of occupations lies in 
chiefly local, temporary, and fortuitous circumstances." The 
sum total of conclusions from most of contemporary discus- 
sion is that one can predict neither the occupational fate of 
the individual nor the origin of the person who will next fill 
a given job. It amounts to a recognition of the essentially 
complicated nature of the processes involved. 

In certain types of occupations the process can be ana- 
lyzed within certain limits; as, for instance, in the clergy of 
evangelical churches where one needs a more definite "call" 
to the profession. This call comes more frequently to rural 
youths than to urban. The country furnishes the ministers for 
the city. Also the more evangelical churches furnish the 
ministers for the less evangelical. The Unitarian denomination 

6. Ibid., p. 19. 

7. Op. cit., p. 235. 

[ 30 ] Men and Their Work 

furnishes practically no ministers, but must recruit its prophets 
from emancipated ones of more orthodox denominations. 
The occupation of the parent undoubtedly has certain tenden- 
cies to affect that of the children. The minister's son, for 
example, has a flair for more emancipated occupations, but 
still retains some of the father's tendency to appraise rather 
than participate in the life of the community. Sociology is 
full of ministers' sons. These processes of selection may well 
be studied both by case studies of occupations and of families. 

The Division of Labor and 

The Mobility of the Person 

The secularized division of labor is a most powerful 
mobilizer of persons. Durkheim stated this fact as one of 
the first order of importance among the effects of an increased 
division of labor upon social life. 

"For to live by a metier one must have clients, and he 
must sally forth from his house to find them; he must sally 
forth also to enter into relations with his competitors, to strug- 
gle against them, and to converse with them. Moreover, 
metiers suppose more or less directly, cities, and cities are al- 
ways formed and recruited principally by means of immigrants 
who have quitted their milieu natal." 8 

The persons who become commodities or functionaries 
in the division of labor have been reared in families. In the 
family the person has acquired a set of social objects and 
attitudes more or less common to the community. To get 
into the occupational world, one must be mobilized. This 
mobilization, according to its degree, implies a removal from 

8. Durkheim, Emile. De la division du travail social. Preface a la 
deuxieme edition. "Quelques remarques sur les groupements profession- 
elles." (Paris: F. Alcan, 1902.) Translation of this passage by ECH. 

See subsequently published translation by George Simpson: The Divi- 
sion of Labor in Society. 1933, and 1947. 


the base of one's morals. The study of The Polish Peasant in 
Europe and America (Thomas and Znaniecki) shows nothing 
more clearly than that this removal ends in radical person- 
ality changes. Eugenia Remmelin, in her unpublished study 
of Itinerants, suggested that the itinerant is, by his very 
itineracy, cut off from the more settled world over which 
he moves. These two examples represent, respectively, an 
extreme of initial movement and an extreme in degree of 
mobility in a given type of occupation. The essential fact of 
the mobilizing of the person for participation in economic 
life is oniy less, not different, in character in other and more 
common cases. The process of finding a place in competition 
with others is one involving a great deal of spatial movement 
in a world where urbanization is proceeding at a rapid rate. 
Professor Sorokin gives us statistics to show that in 1920 one- 
third of the people of the United States lived outside the 
states in which they were born. He assumed that the number 
living outside the communities in which they were born would 
be much higher. 9 

The general circulation of population over the face of 
the earth is continually putting individuals in countries whose 
language they do not know, and in whose social scheme they 
have no place. The effect of this mobilization on existing 
social groups is called, by students of family disorganization, 
atomizing of the family. Perhaps it does not completely atom- 
ize the family, but at least it breaks larger kin connections 
into smaller clusters of people who have attained about the 
same occupational levels and styles of life. 

The Catholic clergy probably represents the most com- 
plete removal of the person from his milieu natal for profes- 
sional life. In a West Side community in Chicago the writer 
became acquainted with a number of Irish families who had 
sons in a seminary. In each case the attitude of the family 
was one of conflict between pride at the son's achievement 

9. Sorokin, P. Social Mobility (New York: Harper & Bros., 1927). 

[ 32 ] Men and Their Work 

and heartbreak because of losing him. To quote from one 
father: "The wife is proud of the boy. But he breaks her 
heart. He ain't our boy any more. He doesn't talk to us the 
same way. He never stays home long, and when he does 
he seems like a stranger. We are going to keep the youngest 
home. We gave two to the church already." 

The very process of making a priest is to envelop the 
candidate in the ecclesiastical world, definitely to limit even 
the number of letters he can write to his family, to give him 
a new formalized language; in short, to make a new person 
of him, with new definitions of his wishes. This does by 
discipline what sects attempt to do by conversion; namely, 
to erase the person's past so that he may be completely mobil- 
ized for carrying out his mission. 

This cutting off of the person from his home base simul- 
taneously with his entrance into an occupation, with his 
change from one occupation to another, or even from one 
job to another, is that characteristic phenomenon of the 
modern division of labor which carries with it personality 
change. The change is ordinarily more casual than that from 
layman to priest, or from Pole to American. It may begin 
with a move from a rural to an urban community. Even if 
it be only the entrance into new groups in one's home com- 
munity, it may lessen the contacts with the family, and the 
part of the family in determining one's social attitudes. 

Classification of Units in 

The Division of Labor 

We may make a rough classification of the types of places 
in the division of labor according to (i) the manner in which 
persons enter, (2) the attitude of the person to his occupa- 
tion, and (3) the implied standing of the occupation in the 
eyes of the community. One may be born to his place. There 
are still hereditary titles and prerogatives. Some are born to 


a life of leisure, but without the assumption that their parents 
were so born, or that the person may be assured by society 
of this position. 

1. Those occupations to which a person is called or con- 
verted we may call missions. The more violent the call or 
conversion, the less are the ethics within the occupational 
group. One may become convinced that he is a servant with 
a special mission. The evangelist, for instance, proselytizes 
from the congregations of regular denominations; for these 
regular denominations have departed from the true faith. The 
missionary easily becomes a fanatic, inspired of God, having 
no earthly colleagues, and recognizing no one's salvation ex- 
cept his own. A remnant of this attitude may survive in old 
and well-established institutions. The Protestant minister 
vaguely hopes to convert the Catholics, and the priest re- 
joices over one Protestant soul brought into the fold. The 
missionary belongs to a cult, whether it be a healing, soul- 
saving, Utopian social order cult, or a sacred branch of learn- 
ing. Editors of organs of opinion acquire this sense of a 
mission. In such occupations a peculiar language and meta- 
physics are developed, which one may understand only when 
he has partaken of the emotional experience common to the 

2. The professions and near-professions. The professions 
are entered by long training, ordinarily in a manner pre- 
scribed by the profession itself and sanctioned by the state. 
The training is assumed to be necessary to learning the science 
and technique essential to practice of the function of the 
profession. The training, however, carries with it as a by- 
product assimilation of the candidate to a set of professional 
attitudes and controls, a professional conscience and solidar- 
ity. The profession claims and aims to become a moral unit. 
It is a phenomenon of the modern city that an increasing 
number of occupations are attempting to gain for themselves 
the characteristics and status of professions. 

[ 34 ] Men and Their Work 

3. The enterprise deals with a commodity. Sombart makes 
the point that the entrepreneur finds his function changing 
almost daily in the modern world. If he enters his business 
with the sense of a mission or of preserving some value to the 
world, he is in danger of being superseded by someone less 
hampered by traditional ideas. To carry on an enterprise it 
may be necessary for one to have long training of the so-called 
"practical" sort. If this training makes the person unfit to 
engage in other enterprises, he becomes something of a 

4. The arts are presumably entered by a combination of 
a special talent or ability plus a training in a technique. 

5. The trades are very close to the arts; so close that 
some of the arts are associating themselves with the trades 
for mutual protection. The trade is entered presumably by 
the acquisition of a certain skill. 

6. Beyond these types are the occupations which are 
called jobs. The method of acquiring a job of the more casual 
sort is simply to present one's self at the proper time and 
place when manpower of a certain age, sex, and perhaps a 
certain grade of intelligence, is wanted. The hobo himself, 
for all of his reputed aversion to work, has an occupation. 
There are certain jobs for which he is fitted and for which 
he is wanted. 

All of these classes of occupations may demand a degree 
of mobility. Certain specialists within these classes are espe- 
cially mobile, as casual laborers, actors, ministers, etc. Others 
have a technique or skill which is presumably capable of 
being practiced anywhere, as medicine; but medicine as ac- 
tually practiced depends on local and personal acquaintance. 
Others are limited to places where an appreciative client 
exists, as the artist, the minister, etc. Another important 
variable in occupations is the nature of the contact of its 
practitioners with each other, and the nature of competition. 


Social Attitudes and 
the Division of Labor 

Within some occupations there may be persons who re- 
present any one of the foregoing types of units in the division 
of labor. Especially is this true in the world of business. 
These different degrees of devotion to the business or to one's 
function, different degrees of casuality, status, different 
degrees of sensitivity to one's colleagues, represent different 
types. In the individual these are facts of his life-organization 
and of his personality. 

In those who come to assume the professional attitude 
the occupation is represented both as a culture and a tech- 
nique. The technique is developed with reference to certain 
objects or activities. The technique of the physician is in 
relation to the human body, which must be for him a differ- 
ent sort of object from what it is for the layman. To the 
layman it is a sacred thing, and an object of sentiment. To 
the real-estate man, real-estate law and the land itself are 
objects of technique. If he opposes change in real-estate law, 
it is not from sentiment, but as a matter of policy. In relation 
to its technique and the interests of those who use that tech- 
nique, the occupational group tends to build up a set of 
collective representations, more or less peculiar to the occupa- 
tion and more or less incomprehensible to the community. 
The interests, which the occupational group couches in a 
language more or less its own, are the basis of the code and 
policy of the occupational group. The code is the occupation's 
prescribed activity of the individuals within toward each 
other; the policy represents its relation to the community in 
which they operate. There is always a limit to the degree in 
which the code and policy of an occupation can deviate from 
the general culture of the community. Its members are prod- 

[ 36 ] Men and Their Work 

ucts of a lay society. The practice of the occupation demands 
some degree of social sanction by the outside world. 

This culture and technique, the etiquette and skill of the 
profession, appear in the individual as personal traits. The 
objects become to the individual a constellation of sacred 
and secular objects and attitudes. In general, we may say 
that the longer and more rigorous the period of initiation into 
an occupation, the more culture and technique are associated 
with it, and the more deeply impressed are its attitudes upon 
the person. 

Some occupations are entered into and left so casually 
that no collective representations develop. But the casual 
worker himself, because of the very casual nature of his work, 
may develop certain characteristic traits. Although distinctly 
casual, waitresses seem to live together so much that they 
have developed a language and a set of social attitudes pecul- 
iar to themselves, individualistic though they be. 10 

Personality Types on the Frontier 

The essential phenomenon of the frontier is a change in 
the division of labor. By extension of the frontier in China 
or India, we mean that those countries are being swept into 
a larger division of labor and that the hitherto local and self- 
sufficient division of labor is being destroyed or altered. In 
India, according to Messrs. Joshi and Wadia (Money and 
the Money Market in India), the nexus between the local 
world of India and the outside world is made by certain half- 
caste bankers or money-lenders, the mahajan and the shroff, 
who freely swindle the Indian peasant and who translate his 
crops into European bank credit. A Chinese student says 
there is a similar type of money-lender in China who literally 
sells his own people into the hands of the outside commercial 
world. In Western Canada Chinese are said to engage in the 

10. Donovan, op. cit., p. 128. 


business of hiring men of their own nationality for Canadian 
employers of labor. These are personality types developed in 
the changing division of labor on a frontier. Such persons 
are without ethical or moral precedent. They are unscrup- 
ulous in that they operate to undermine the social and econ- 
omic order of their peoples. 

The Person in the New Occupation 

In his paper on ecology last year R. D. McF nzie 11 in- 
troduced the concept, "center of dominance." Among other 
things the center of dominance is the place of a very great 
division of labor. It is, likewise, a frontier in which new 
occupational types develop. Among these new types is the 
man of finance, for the center of dominance is a center 
of credit and finance. Sombart gives us a picture of this 
new type of man who upset the existing order and brought 
in modern capitalism. 

"The new men are as such free from the reference to the 
tradition of the family, of the business, of mercantile cus- 
toms. Earlier large business lay mostly in the hands of aristo- 
cratic families with seigneurial tendencies, who shied anx- 
iously before unsound changes or makeshifts, who held the 
view that it is more honorable to preserve than to win, who 
therefore were 'neophobes,' filled with a predilection for 
tradition. That the customs and usages which regulated the 
individual merchant in his behavior were very strict stands 
in close relationship with the essentially traditionally minded 
entrepreneurship. From all these bonds and barriers the up- 
start is free; he transforms the world freely according to his 
purpose. . . . The old families live in the continuity of busi- 
ness. . . . The new men are unscrupulous." 12 

When this new type, the financier, was just being de- 

11. McKenzie, R. D., "The Concept of Dominance and World Or- 
ganization," American Journal of Sociology. Vol. XXXIII (July, 1927) 
pp. 28-42. 

12. Sombart, op. cit., p. 29. 

[ 38 ] Men and Their Work 

veloped, he was unscrupulous not only in his dealings with 
the outside world, but toward his competitors and colleagues 
as well. The biography of Daniel Drew, 13 an early operator 
on Wall Street, tells stories of boards of directors of cor- 
porations who betrayed the very companies they were sup- 
posed to represent. The life of Gary by Ida Tarbell tells 
something of the same story, and tells of the etiquette which 
in course of time this new element in economic life devel- 
oped for their protection. 14 As the occupation grows older 
it becomes a social climber, bidding for a fixed or improved 
status in the community. The individuals in the occupation 
bear the marks of this social climbing. Once this status is 
gained, the individuals in it become "regulars," and the 
persons who attempt to break in with new techniques are 
in turn unscrupulous upstarts. 

Types in the Real Estate Business 

The real estate business is a comparatively new one. In 
its rather brief history it has gone through part of the cycle 
from an upstart, unscrupulous business to a settled, some- 
what respectable one. We may illustrate the types of per- 
sonality in a unit of the division of labor from the real estate 
men of Chicago. 

The realtor. — The "realtor," or regular real estate man, 
represents the type who has been in the business longest. 
He thinks, moves, and has his being in the world of real 

13. White, Bouck. The Book of Daniel Drew (N.Y., 1910). 

14. Tarbell, Ida. The Life of Elbert H. Gary (N.Y., 1925). "Judge 
Gary belongs to a group of powerful men who in the last fifty years have 
led in the creation in the United States of what we call Big Business. The 
most conspicuous of these leaders have been the elder Rockefeller in oil, 
the elder Morgan in banking, E. H. Harriman in railroads, and in the 
earlier half of the period, Andrew Carnegie in steel. The men of undoubted 
financial and commercial genius typified certain attitudes of mind toward 
business and were the sponsors of practices and an etiquette essential to 
understand if we are to have a realizing and helpful sense of the actual 
development and meaning and potentiality of Big Business." 


estate. He is fairly well assimilated to a code of real estate 
ethics or practice, supports the policies which the leaders 
of the business conceive to be for the ultimate welfare of the 
trade. The real estate board is his club, and generally his 
only downtown club. It is among his fellows there that he 
has his professional or business status. He sponsors action 
to make it more difficult for others to get into the business 
and into the board. A few older members of the Chicago 
Real Estate Board have made almost a mission of their trade, 
and in so doing have well-nigh lost their business. They are 
occupationally conscious and jealous. Their name is in- 
tended as an advertisement of their place in the real estate 

The real-estator. — The member of the Cook County Real 
Estate Board is poorer than the "realtor." He is perhaps less 
successful, and espouses the cause of democracy in real estate. 
He accuses the realtor of being a monopolist and a repre- 
sentative of "big interests." When he becomes more suc- 
cessful he usually becomes a "realtor." 

The foreign-language agent. — He has a more casual con- 
nection with the real estate business. He gets his business with 
people of his own nationality, and lives in part by accelerating 
foreign invasions of native communities. The collective rep- 
resentations of the organized real estate world mean nothing 
to him. He lives in his own language group and capitalizes 
his acquaintance with this group. His neighbors are his clients. 

The salesman. — The salesman is the casual of the real 
estate business. His services are enlisted by ads which assure 
the prospect that no experience is necessary. According to 
the realtor, the salesman is the lowest order of the real estate 
man. He came into the business because he could not get 
a job elsewhere. He stays only long enough to get an advance 
draft on commissions, and will not govern his occupational 
conduct in the interests of his employer or the real estate 
business in general. Every salesman complains of mistreat- 

[ 40 ] Men and Their Work 

ment by his former employer and of "dirty deals" given him 
by his fellow-salesmen. He is the Ishmael of the business; 
like the waitress, he accuses his fellows of having stolen his 
tips, and proceeds to steal theirs. He considers the formu- 
lated codes of business as checks upon his enterprise. 

The promoter or boomer. — The real estate business in 
Chicago started in a land boom; the heads of now respect- 
able and conservative firms were once boomers, as wild in 
their own day as the more recent boomers of Florida and 
Muscle Shoals. The boomer of today, however, is to them 
an upstart. He takes money from the sacred local market. 
The boomer, in turn, calls the conservative local real estate 
man a selfish, short-sighted pig. This boomer or promoter is 
the functionary of the land mania. In manner, he is a sales- 
man of the most high-pressure sort; what he happens to be 
selling at the moment is merely incidental. His optimism 
turns itself with facility from one thing to another. His ethics 
are immediate expediency, and he is mobile, changing both 
the subjects and objects of his activity frequently. To him, 
likewise, restrictions of any sort put upon the business by 
law or the trade itself are a handicap. 

The center of the real estate business is occupied by a 
group of men whose fortunes, clientele, and standing in the 
business are more or less secure. They are no longer upstarts. 
Their competitors are their bosom friends. To them, their 
real estate board has become almost a religious organization; 
it is certainly a fraternity. To be president of that board is 
an objective to which they look forward when they are well 
on in their lives and careers. One could name a group of 
men in the Chicago Real Estate Board who considered it a 
religious duty to attend meetings of the Board, to serve on 
its committees, etc. They clearly sought status nowhere so 
much as in their business group. 

Especially when an occupation develops its own institu- 
tion for control of the occupation, and protection of its 


prerogatives, is it likely to develop what we may call a cul- 
ture, an etiquette, and a group within which one may attain 
the satisfaction of his wishes. This etiquette may be more 
or less incomprehensible to the outside, or lay, world. The 
hobo or casual, on the other hand, develops a set of atti- 
tudes and wishes such that his wishes are satisfied, not at work, 
but away from it. He is none the less sensitive to the opin- 
ions of people of his own occupational sort, and he undoubt- 
edly constitutes a personality type. 

Work and the Self 

There are societies in which custom or sanctioned rule 
determines what work a man of given status may do. In our 
society, at least one strong strain of ideology has it that a 
man may do any work which he is competent to do; or even 
that he has a right to the schooling and experience necessary 
to gain competence in any kind of work which he sets as 
the goal of his ambition. Equality of opportunity is, among 
us, stated very much in terms of the right to enter upon any 
occupation whatsoever. Although we do not practice this 
belief to the full, we are a people who cultivate ambition. A 
great deal of our ambition takes the form of getting training 
for kinds of work which carry more prestige than that which 
our fathers did. Thus a man's work is one of the things by 
which he is judged, and certainly one of the more significant 
things by which he judges himself. 

Many people in our society work in named occupations. 
The names are a combination of price tag and calling card. 
One has only to hear casual conversation to sense how im- 
portant these tags are. Hear a salesman, who has just been 
asked what he does, reply, "I am in sales work," or "I am 

Rohrer, John H., and Sherif, M. (editors), Social Psychology at the 
Crossroads. New York, Harper and Bros., 1951. Pp. 313-323. Reprinted 
with permission. 



in promotional work," not "I sell skillets." Schoolteachers 
sometimes turn schoolteaching into educational work, and 
the disciplining of youngsters and chaperoning of parties 
into personnel work. Teaching Sunday School becomes reli- 
gious education, and the Y.M.C.A. Secretary is in "group 
work." Social scientists emphasize the science end of their 
name. These hedging statements in which people pick the 
most favorable of several possible names of their work imply 
an audience. And one of the most important things about 
any man is his audience, or his choice of the several available 
audiences to which he may address his claims to be someone 
of worth. 

These remarks should be sufficient to call it to your at- 
tention that a man's work is one of the more important parts 
of his social identity, of his self; indeed, of his fate in the 
one life he has to live, for there is something almost as ir- 
revocable about choice of occupation as there is about choice 
of a mate. And since the language about work is so loaded 
with value and prestige judgments, and with defensive choice 
of symbols, we should not be astonished that the concepts 
of social scientists who study work should carry a similar 
load, for the relation of social-science concepts to popular 
speech remains close in spite of our efforts to separate them. 
The difference is that while the value-weighting in popular 
speech is natural and proper, for concealment and ego-pro- 
tection are of the essence of social intercourse — in scientific 
discourse the value-loaded concept may be a blinder. And 
part of the problem of method in the study of work behavior 
is that the people who have the most knowledge about a 
given occupation (let us say medicine), and from whom there- 
fore the data for analysis must come, are the people in the 
occupation. They may combine in themselves a very sophis- 
ticated manipulative knowledge of the appropriate social re- 
lations, with a very strongly motivated suppression, and even 
repression, of the deeper truths about these relationships, 

[ 44 ] Men and Their Work 

and, in occupations of higher status, with great verbal skill 
in keeping these relationships from coming up for thought 
and discussion by other people. This is done in part by the 
use of and insistence upon loaded value words where their 
work is discussed. 

My own experience in study of occupations illustrates 
the point that concepts may be blinders. My first essay into 
the field was a study of the real estate agents in Chicago. 
These highly competitive men were just at that point in their 
journey toward respectability at which they wished to em- 
phasize their conversion from business-minded suspicion of 
one another to the professional attitude of confidence in each 
other coupled with a demand for confidence from the public. 
I started the study with the idea of finding out an answer to 
this familiar question, "Are these men professionals?" It 
was a false question, for the concept "profession" in our so- 
ciety is not so much a descriptive term as one of value and 
prestige. It happens over and over that the people who prac- 
tice an occupation attempt to revise the conceptions which 
their various publics have of the occupation and of the people 
in it. In so doing, they also attempt to revise their own con- 
ception of themselves and of their work. The model which 
these occupations set before themselves is that of the "profes- 
sion"; thus the term profession is a symbol for a desired 
conception of one's work and, hence, of one's self. The move- 
ment to "professionalize" an occupation is thus collective 
mobility of some among the people in an occupation. One 
aim of the movement is to rid the occupation of people who 
are not mobile enough to go along with the changes. 

There are two kinds of. occupational mobility. One is 
individual. The individual makes the several choices, and 
achieves the skills which allow him to move to a certain posi- 
tion in the occupational, and thus — he hopes — in the social 
and economic hierarchy. His choice is limited by several 
conditions, among which is the social knowledge available 


to him at the time of crucial decision, a time which varies 
for the several kinds of work. 

The other kind of occupational mobility is that of a group 
of people in an occupation, i.e., of the occupation itself. This 
has been important in our society with its great changes of 
technology, with its attendant proliferation of new occupa- 
tions and of change in the techniques and social relations 
of old ones. Now it sometimes happens that by the time a 
person has the full social knowledge necessary to the smart- 
est possible choice of occupations, he is already stuck with 
one and in one. How strongly this may affect the drive for 
professionalization of occupations, I don't know. I suspect 
that it is a motive. At any rate, it is common in our society 
for occupational groups to step their occupation up in the 
hierarchy by turning it into a profession. I will not here 
describe this process. Let me only indicate that in my own 
studies I passed from the false question "Is this occupation 
a profession?" to the more fundamental one, "What are the 
circumstances in which the people in an occupation attempt to 
turn it into a profession, and themselves into professional 
people?" and "What are the steps by which they attempt to 
bring about identification with their valued model?" 

Even with this new orientation the term profession acted 
as a blinder. For as I began to give courses and seminars 
on occupations, I used a whole set of concepts and headings 
which were prejudicial to full understanding of what work 
behavior and relations are. One of them was that of the "code 
of ethics," which still tended to sort people into the good 
and the bad. It was not until I had occasion to undertake 
study of race relations in industry that I finally, I trust, got 
rid of this bias in the concepts which I used. Negro indus- 
trial workers, the chief objects of our study, performed the 
kinds of work which have least prestige and which make least 
pretension; yet it turned out that even in the lowest occupa- 
tions people do develop collective pretensions to give their 

[ 46 ] Men and Their Work 

work, and consequently themselves, value in the eyes of each 
other and of outsiders. 

It was from these people that we learned that a common 
dignifying rationalization of people in all positions of a work 
hierarchy except the very top one is, "We in this position 
save the people in the next higher position above from their 
own mistakes." The notion that one saves a person of more 
acknowledged skill, and certainly of more acknowledged 
prestige and power, than one's self from his mistakes appears 
to be peculiarly satisfying. Now there grow up in work or- 
ganizations rules of mutual protection among the persons 
in a given category and rank, and across ranks and categories. 
If one uses the term "code of ethics" he is likely not to see 
the true nature of these rules. These rules have of necessity 
to do with mistakes, for it is in the nature of work that people 
make mistakes. The question of how mistakes are handled is 
a much more penetrating one than any question which con- 
tains the concept "professional ethics" as ordinarily con- 
ceived. For in finding out how mistakes are handled, one 
must get at the fundamental psychological and social devices 
by which people are able to carry on through time, to live 
with others and with themselves, knowing that what is daily 
routine for them in their occupational roles may be fateful 
for others, knowing that one's routine mistakes, even the mis- 
takes by which one learns better, may touch other lives at 
crucial points. It is in part the problem of dealing routinely 
with what are the crises of others. The people in lower ranks 
are thus using a powerful psychological weapon when they 
rationalize their worth and indispensability as lying in their 
protection of people in higher ranks from their mistakes. I 
suppose it is almost a truism that the people who take the 
larger responsibilities must be people who can face making 
mistakes, while punctiliousness must remain in second place. 
But this is a matter which has not been very seriously taken 


into account, as far as I know, in studies of the social drama 
of work. 

Of course, the rules which people make to govern their 
behavior at work cover other problems than that of mistakes. 
Essentially the rules classify people, for to define situations 
and the proper behavior in situations one has to assign roles 
to the people involved. Among the most important subject 
matter of rules is the setting up of criteria for recognizing 
a true fellow-worker, for determining who it is safe and 
maybe even necessary to initiate into the in-group of close 
equals, and who must be kept at some distance. This prob- 
lem is apt to be obscured by the term "colleagueship," which, 
although its etymology is perfect for the matter in hand, 
carries a certain notion of higher status, of respectability. 
(In pre-Hitler Germany the Social-Democratic workers called 
one another "Comrade." The Christian trade-unions insisted 
on the term "Colleague.") 

Allow me to mention one other value-laden term which 
may act as a blinder in study of the social psychology of 
work, to wit, "restriction of production." This term contains 
a value assumption of another kind — namely, that there is 
someone who knows and has a right to determine the right 
amount of work for other people to do. If one does less, he 
is restricting production. Mayo 1 and others have done a 
good deal to analyze the phenomenon in question, but it was 
Max Weber 2 who — forty years ago — pointed to "putting 
on the brakes," as an inevitable result of the wrestling match 
between a man and his employer over the price he must pay 
with his body for his wage. In short, he suggested that no 
man easily yields to another full control over the amount 

1. Mayo, Elton, W. Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization. 
New York, 1933. 

2. Weber, Max, "Zur Psychophysik der industriellen Arbeit," in Gesam- 
melte Aufsatze zur Soziologie und Sozialpolitik. Tubingen, 1924. Pp. 

[ 48 ] Men and Their Work 

of effort he must daily exert. On the other hand, there is no 
more characteristically human phenomenon than determined 
and even heroic effort to do a task which one has taken as 
his own. I do not mean to make the absurd implication that 
there could be a situation in which every man would be his 
own and only taskmaster. But I think we might better under- 
stand the social interaction which determines the measure 
of effort if we keep ourselves free of terms which suggest 
that it is abnormal to do less than one is asked by some 
reasonable authority. 

You will have doubtless got the impression that I am 
making the usual plea for a value-free science, that is, for 
neutrality. Such is not my intention. Our aim is to penetrate 
more deeply into the personal and social drama of work, 
to understand the social and social-psychological arrange- 
ments and devices by which men make their work tolerable, 
or even glorious to themselves and others. I believe that much 
of our terminology and hence, of our problem setting, has 
limited our field of perception by a certain pretentiousness 
and a certain value-loading. Specifically we need to rid our- 
selves of any concepts which keep us from seeing that the 
essential problems of men at work are the same whether they 
do their work in some famous laboratory or in the messiest 
vat room of a pickle factory. Until we can find a point of 
view and concepts which will enable us to make comparisons 
between the junk peddler and the professor without intent 
to debunk the one and patronize the other, we cannot do 
our best work in this field. 

Perhaps there is as much to be learned about the high- 
prestige occupations by applying to them the concepts which 
naturally come to mind for study of people in the most lowly 
kinds of work as there is to be learned by applying to other 
occupations the conceptions developed in connection with 
the highly-valued professions. Furthermore, I have come to 
the conclusion that it is a fruitful thing to start study of any 


social phenomenon at the point of least prestige. For, since 
prestige is so much a matter of symbols, and even of preten- 
sions — however well merited — there goes with prestige a 
tendency to preserve a front which hides the inside of things; 
a front of names, of indirection, of secrecy (much of it nec- 
essary secrecy). On the other hand, in things of less prestige, 
the core may be more easy of access. 

In recent years a number of my students have studied 
some more or less lowly occupations: apartment-house jani- 
tors, junk men, boxers, jazz musicians, osteopaths, pharma- 
cists, etc. They have done so mainly because of their own 
connections with the occupations in question, and perhaps 
because of some problem of their own. At first, I thought of 
these studies as merely interesting and informative for what 
they would tell about people who do these humbler jobs, 
i.e., as American ethnology. I have now come to the belief 
that although the problems of people in these lines of work 
are as interesting and important as any other, their deeper 
value lies in the insights they yield about work behavior in 
any and all occupations. It is not that it puts one into the 
position to debunk the others, but simply that processes which 
are hidden in other occupations come more readily to view 
in these lowly ones. We may be here dealing with a funda- 
mental matter of method in social science, that of finding 
the best possible laboratory for study of a given series of 

Let me illustrate. The apartment-house janitor is a fellow 
who, in making his living, has to do a lot of other people's 
dirty work. This is patent. He could not hide it if he would. 
Now every occupation is not one but several activities; some 
of them are the "dirty work" of that trade. It may be dirty 
in one of several ways. It may be simply physically disgust- 
ing. It may be a symbol of degradation, something that wounds 
one's dignity. 

Finally, it may be dirty work in that it in some way goes 

[ 50 ] Men and Their Work 

counter to the more heroic of our moral conceptions. Dirty 
work of some kind is found in all occupations. It is hard to 
imagine an occupation in which one does not appear, in cer- 
tain repeated contingencies, to be practically compelled to 
play a role of which he thinks he ought to be a little ashamed. 
Insofar as an occupation carries with it a self-conception, 
a notion of personal dignity, it is likely that at some point 
one will feel that he is having to do something that is infra 
dignitate. Janitors turned out to be bitterly frank about their 
physically dirty work. When asked, "What is the toughest 
part of your job," they answered almost to a man in the 
spirit of this quotation: "Garbage. Often the stuff is sloppy 
and smelly. You know some fellows can't look at garbage if 
it's sloppy. I'm getting used to it now, but it almost killed 
me when I started." Or as another put it, "The toughest 
part? It's the messing up in front of the garbage incinerator. 
That's the most miserable thing there is on this job. The 
tenants don't co-operate — them bastards. You tell them to- 
day, and tomorrow there is the same mess over again by the 

In the second quotation it becomes evident that the 
physical disgust of the janitor is not merely a thing between 
him and the garbage, but involves the tenant also. Now the 
tenant is the person who impinges most on the daily activity 
of the janitor. It is the tenant who interferes most with his 
own dignified ordering of his life and work. If it were not 
for a tenant who had broken a window, he could have got 
his regular Sunday cleaning done on time; if it were not for 
a tenant who had clogged a trap, he would not have been 
ignominiously called away from the head of his family table 
just when he was expansively offering his wife's critical rela- 
tives a second helping of porkchops, talking the while about 
the importance of his job. It is the tenant who causes the 
janitor's status pain. The physically disgusting part of the 


janitor's work is directly involved in his relations with other 
actors in his work drama. 3 

By a contre coup, it is by the garbage that the janitor 
judges, and, as it were, gets power over the tenants who high- 
hat him. Janitors know about hidden love-affairs by bits 
of torn-up letter paper; of impending financial disaster or 
of financial four-flushing by the presence of many unopened 
letters in the waste. Or they may stall off demands for im- 
mediate service by an unreasonable woman of whom they 
know from the garbage that she, as the janitors put it, "has 
the rag on." The garbage gives the janitor the makings of 
a kind of magical power over that pretentious villain, the 
tenant. I say a kind of magical power, for there appears to 
be no thought of betraying any individual and thus turning 
this knowledge into overt power. He protects the tenant, but, 
at least among Chicago janitors, it is not a loving protection. 

Let your mind dwell on what one might hear from people 
in certain other occupations if they were to answer as frankly 
and bitterly as did the janitors. I do not say nor do I think 
that it would be a good thing for persons in all occupations 
to speak so freely on physical disgust as did these men. To 
do so, except in the most tightly closed circles, would create 
impossible situations. But we are likely to overlook the mat- 
ter altogether in studying occupations where concealment is 
practiced, and thus get a false notion of the problems which 
have to be faced in such occupations, and of the possible 
psychological and social by-products of the solutions which 
are developed for the problem of disgust. 

Now the delegation of dirty work to someone else is 
common among humans. Many cleanliness taboos, and per- 
haps even many moral scruples, depend for their practice 
upon success in delegating the tabooed activity to someone 

3. Gold, Ray, "Janitors vs. Tenants; a status-income Dilemma," The 
American Journal of Sociology, LVII (March, 1952), pp. 487-493. 

[ 52 ] Men and Their Work 

else. Delegation of dirty work is also a part of the process of 
occupational mobility. Yet there are kinds of work, some of 
them of very high prestige, in which such delegation is pos- 
sible only to a limited extent. The dirty work may be an 
intimate part of the very activity which gives the occupation 
its charism, as is the case with the handling of the human 
body by the physician. In this case, I suppose the dirty work 
is somehow integrated into the whole, and into the prestige- 
bearing role of the person who does it. What role it plays in 
the drama of work relations in such a case is something to 
find out. The janitor, however, does not integrate his dirty 
work into any deeply satisfying definition of his role that 
might liquidate his antagonism to the people whose dirt he 
handles. Incidentally, we have found reason to believe that 
one of the deeper sources of antagonisms in hospitals is the 
belief of the people in the humblest jobs that the physician 
in charge calls upon them to do his dirty work in the name 
of the role of "healing the sick," although none of the pres- 
tige and little of the money reward of that role reaches them. 
Thus we might conceive of a classification of occupations 
involving dirty work into those in which it is knit into some 
satisfying and prestige-giving definition of role and those 
in which it is not. I suppose we might think of another classi- 
fication into those in which the dirty work seems somehow 
wilfully put upon one and those in which it is quite uncon- 
nected with any person involved in the work drama. 

There is a feeling among prison guards and mental-hos- 
pital attendants that society at large and their superiors hypo- 
critically put upon them dirty work which they, society, and 
the superiors in prison and hospital know is necessary but 
which they pretend is not necessary. Here it takes the form, 
in the minds of people in these two lowly occupations, of 
leaving them to cope for twenty-four hours, day in and day 
out, with inmates whom the public never has to see and 
whom the people at the head of the organization see only 


episodically. There is a whole series of problems here which 
cannot be solved by some miracle of changing the social se- 
lection of those who enter the job (which is the usual unreal- 
istic solution for such cases). 

And this brings us to the brief consideration of what one 
may call the social drama of work. Most kinds of work bring 
people together in definable roles; thus the janitor and the 
tenant, the doctor and the patient, the teacher and the pupil, 
the worker and his foreman, the prison guard and the prisoner, 
the musician and his listener. In many occupations there is 
some category of persons with whom the people at work regu- 
larly come into crucial contact. In some occupations the 
most crucial relations are those with one's fellow-workers. 
It is they who can do most to make life sweet or sour. Often, 
however, it is the people in some other position. And in many 
there is a category of persons who are the consumers of one's 
work or services. It is probable that the people in the occu- 
pation will have a chronic fight for status, for personal dig- 
nity with this group of consumers of their services. Part of 
the social psychological problem of the occupation is the 
maintenance of a certain freedom and social distance from 
these people most crucially and intimately concerned with 
one's work. 

In a good deal of our talk about occupations we imply 
that the tension between the producer and consumer of serv- 
ices is somehow a matter of ill-will or misunderstandings 
which easily might be removed. It may be that it lies a good 
deal deeper than that. Often there is a certain ambivalence 
on the side of the producer, which may be illustrated by the 
case of the professional jazz-musicians. The musician wants 
jobs and an income. He also wants his music to be appre- 
ciated, but to have his living depend upon the appreciation 
does not entirely please him. For he likes to think himself 
and other musicians the best judges of his playing. Tc play 
what pleases the audience — the paying customers, who are 

[ 54 ] Men and Their Work 

not, in his opinion, good judges — is a source of annoyance. 
It is not merely that the listeners, having poor taste, demand 
that he play music which he does not think is the best he 
can do; even when they admire him for playing in his own 
sweet way, he doesn't like it, for then they are getting too 
close — they are impinging on his private world too much. 
The musicians accordingly use all sorts of little devices to 
keep a line drawn between themselves and the audience; 
such as turning the musicians' chairs, in a dance hall without 
platform, in such a way as to make something of a barrier. 4 
*4 It is characteristic of many occupations that the people in 
them, although convinced that they themselves are the best 
judges, not merely of their own competence but also of what 
is best for the people for whom they perform services, are 
required in some measure to yield judgment of what is wanted 
to these amateurs who receive the services. This is a prob- 
lem not only among musicians, but in teaching, medicine, 
dentistry, the arts, and many other fields. It is a chronic 
source of ego-wound and possibly of antagonism. 

Related to this is the problem of routine and emergency. 
In many occupations, the workers or practitioners (to use 
both a lower and a higher status term) deal routinely with 
what are emergencies to the people who receive their serv- 
ices. This is a source of chronic tension between the two. 
For the person with the crisis feels that the other is trying 
to belittle his trouble; he does not take it seriously enough. 
His very competence comes from having dealt with a thou- 
sand cases of what the client likes to consider his unique 
trouble. The worker thinks he knows from long experience 
that people exaggerate their troubles. He therefore builds 
up devices to protect himself, to stall people off. This is the 
function of the janitor's wife when a tenant phones an appeal 

4. Becker, Howard S. "The Professional Dance Musician and his 
Audience," The American Journal of Sociology, LVII (September, 1951), 
pp. 136-144. 


or a demand for immediate attention to a leaky tap; it is 
also the function of the doctor's wife and even sometimes 
of the professor's wife. The physician plays one emergency 
off against the other; the reason he can't run right up to see 
Johnny who may have the measles is that he is, unfortunately, 
right at that moment treating a case of the black plague. 
Involved in this is something of the struggle mentioned above 
in various connections, the struggle to maintain some control 
over one's decisions of what work to do, and over the dispo- 
sition of one's time and of one's routine of life. It would be 
interesting to know what the parish priest thinks to himself 
when he is called for the tenth time to give extreme unction 
to the sainted Mrs. O'Flaherty who hasn't committed a sin 
in years except that of being a nuisance to the priest, in her 
anxiety over dying in a state of sin. On Mrs. O'Flaherty's 
side there is the danger that she might die unshriven, and 
she has some occasion to fear that the people who shrive 
may not take her physical danger seriously and hence may 
not come quickly enough when at last her hour has come. 
There may indeed be in the minds of the receivers of emer- 
gency services a resentment that something so crucial to 
them can be a matter of a cooler and more objective attitude, 
even though they know perfectly well that such an attitude 
is necessary to competence, and though they could not stand 
it if the expert to whom they take their troubles were to 
show any signs of excitement. 

Institutional Office 
and The Person 

The conscious fulfilling of formally defined offices dis- 
tinguishes social institutions from more elementary collective 
phenomena. This paper will discuss the nature of institu- 
tional offices and their relations to the peculiar roles and 
careers of persons. 1 

Office and Role 

Sumner insisted that the mores differentiate, as well as 
standardize, behavior, for status lies in them. 2 Status assigns 
individuals to various accepted social categories; each cate- 
gory has its own rights and duties. No individual becomes a 
moral person until he has a sense of his own station and 
the ways proper to it. Status, in its active and conscious 
aspect, is an elementary form of office. An office is a stand- 

The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. XLIII (November, 1937), 
pp. 404-413. Reprinted with permission. 

1. W. G. Sumner, The Folkways (Boston, 1906), pars. 40, 41, 56, 61, 
63, 67, et passim; C. H. Cooley, Social Organization (New York, 1909), 
chaps, iii, xxviii; E. Faris, "The Primary Group: Essence and Accident,' 
American Journal of Sociology, XXXVIII (July, 1932), 41-50. 

2. Op. cit., par. 73. 



ardized group of duties and privileges devolving upon a 
person in certain defined situations. 

In current writing on the development of personality, a 
great deal is made of social role. What is generally meant is 
that the individual gets some consistent conception of himself 
in relation to other people. This conception, although identified 
with one's self as a unique being, is a social product; Cooley 
would have said, a product of primary group life. But role, 
however individual and unique, does not remain free of status. 
Indeed, Linton says "a role is the dynamic aspect of a status." 3 
Role is dynamic, but it is also something more than status. 
Status refers only to that part of one's role which has a stand- 
ard definition in the mores or in law. A status is never pecu- 
liar to the individual; it is historic. The person, in status and 
in institutional office, is identified with an historic role. The 
peculiar role of a prophet or a political leader may be trans- 
formed into the historic role or office of priesthood or king- 
ship. Every office has had a history, in which the informal 
and unique have become formal and somewhat impersonal. 
The story of an institution might well be told in terms of 
the growth of its offices, with which have been identified the 
personal roles of series of individuals. 

Entrance into a status is not always a matter of choice. 
That does not prevent persons from being aware that they 
are entering it, from focusing their wills upon it, or from 
fulfilling the attendant obligations with consciously varying 
degrees of skill and scruple. Status gives self-consciousness X 
and the conscience something to bite on. 4 

3. Ralph Linton, The Study of Man (New York, 1936), chap, viii, 
"Status and Role." 

4. B. Malinowski, in Crime and Custom in Savage Society (London, 
1926), chap v et passim, attacks the notion, so prominent in evolutionary 
social theory, that the member of a primitive society adheres to custom 
unconsciously and automatically. He maintains that among the Trobriand 
Islanders there is considerable margin between the maximum and mini- 
mum fulfilling of obligations and that, within these limits, persons are 
impelled by motives very like those recognized among us. Some men 

[ 58 ] Men and Their Work 

Every social order is, viewed in one way, a round of life. 
Anthropologists almost invariably describe it so, and show 
how persons of different status fit their activities into this 
round. But beyond routine, even in simple and stable so- 
cieties, occur great ceremonial occasions and crucial enter- 
prises. On such occasions some person or persons become 
the center of enhanced attention. Collective expression and 
effort are co-ordinated about them. Status may determine 
the selection of these persons, but they must perform special 
offices appropriate to the occasion. They become, within 
the limits of their offices, especially responsible for the fate 
of their fellows and for the integrity of their communities. 5 

The person who fills such a great office is judged not as 
the common run of mankind but with reference to his prede- 
cessors in office and to the popular conception of what the 
office should be. He is exposed to special demands. He 
is also protected, insofar as the office sets the limits of his 
responsibility, from both the bludgeons of critics and the 
sharp thrusts of his own conscience. 

Objective differentiation of duty reaches its ultimate rig- 
idity in ritual office. The subjective aspect of such rigidity 
is punctiliousness. The responsibilities of ritual office are so 
clear-cut as to allow the incumbent a feeling of assurance that 
he is doing his whole duty. The anxiety lest he fall short is 
but the greater. 7 Anxiety and responsibility are alike focused 

show an excess of zeal and generosity, banking upon a return in goods 
and prestige. He points also to a conflict of offices embodied in one person; 
a man is at once affectionate parent of his own children and guardian of 
the property and interests of his sister's children. Malinowski suggests that 
the man is often aware of this conflict. 

5. See R. Redfield, Chan Kom, a Maya Village (Washington, 1934), 
pp. 153-59, for description of the fiesta and the office of cargador; B. 
Malinowski, Argonauts of the Western Pacific (London, 1922), for the 
office of the chieftain in canoe-building and expeditions, and that of the 
magician in gardening. 

6. Sumner, op. cit., par. 67. 

7. The psychoanalysts trace ritual to anxieties arising from unconscious 
guilt. In compulsion neurosis the individual ceaselessly performs rituals 
of penitence and of washing away one's sins (see A. Fenichel, Hysterien 


upon the office, as something transcending the individual. 
The incumbent tends to be impatient of the criticisms of 
others. He wards them off by declaring that whoever criti- 
cizes him attacks the sacred office. 

In the performance of ritual one may realize profoundly 
that he, even he, is playing a historic role; he may be trans- 
figured in an ecstasy in which his personal attributes are 
merged with those of the office. Each meticulous gesture 
bursts with symbolic meaning. E. Boyd Barrett writes thus 
of his feeling while celebrating his first mass. 

On the snow-white altar cloth before me lay a chalice 
of wine and on a paten a wafer of unleavened bread. Pres- 
ently at my words, at my repetition of the eternal formula 
of consecration, the wine would become the blood of Christ, 
and the bread the body of Christ. My hands, soiled and sin- 
ful though they were, would be privileged to raise aloft in 
adoration the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. . . . 
Surely the words "Sanctus! Sanctus! Sanctus!" were none too 
sacred to pronounce in presence of this mystery of mysteries. 
. . . My first mass was an ecstasy of joy. ... I gave myself 
confidently and wholeheartedly to God and I felt that He 
gave himself to me. 8 

While devotion and sense of office may be at their maxi- 
mum in such moments, judgment is in abeyance. It is in the 
nature of ritual that it should be, since each action is part 
of a sacred whole. Furthermore, rituals are performed under 
compulsion often backed by a vow. A vow allows no turn- 
ing back, no changing of the mind, no further exercise of 
judgment. 9 

und Zwangsneurosen, Vienna, 1931, chap. iv). J. Piaget, in The Moral Judg- 
ment of the Child (London, 1932), finds that young children play marbles as 
ritual before they play it as a game. In this early stage they observe punc- 
tiliously such rules as they know, attributing their origin to their fathers, the 
city alderman, and God. They are quick to accuse and facile at self-excuse, 
but show little regard for their fellow-players. 

8. Ex-Jesuit (London, 1930), p. 124. Published in the U. S. A. as The 
Magnificent Illusion. 

9. See W. G. Sumner, War and Other Essays, "Mores of the Present 

[ 60 ] Men and Their Work 

An office may eventually become so ritualistic that the 
successive incumbents are but symbols rather than respon- 
sible agents. A rigid etiquette is observed in approaching 
them, and sentiments of reverence become so intense that 
the office is worshiped. This final point of impersonal insti- 
tution of an office is reached at the cost of the more active 
functions of leadership. In ongoing collective life, contin- 
gencies arise to require decisions. Even a ritual may not go 
on without a stage-manager. Furthermore, every ritual is 
proper to an occasion. The occasion must be recognized 
and met. An office may become purely symbolic only if 
the meeting of contingencies is allocated to some other office. 10 

and Future," p. 157 (New Haven, 1911) in which he says: "One of the 
most noteworthy and far-reaching features in modern mores is the un- 
willingness to recognize a vow or to enforce a vow by any civil or ec- 
clesiastical process. ... In modern mores it is allowed that a man may 
change his mind as long as he lives." The belief that a man may change 
his mind is an essentially secular attitude. Catholic doctrine recognizes 
this, by distinguishing resolutions, promises, and vows. Vows are the most 
sacred, since they are promises to God. "A subsequent change in one's 
purpose is a want of respect to God; it is like taking away something that 
has been dedicated to Him, and committing sacrilege in the widest sense 
of the word." Resolutions are mere present intentions, without a commit- 
ment; promises between man and man or to the saints should be kept, 
but the breach is not so serious as that of a vow (The Catholic Encyclo- 
pedia, Vol. XV, "Vows"). It is perhaps the residue of the compulsion of 
a vow that gives ex-priests the sense of being marked men. See E. Boyd 
Barrett, op. cit. Ordinary life may be something of an anticlimax for these 
men once dedicated to holy office. Such men are also suspect. A French- 
Canadian recently dismissed all that a certain psychologist might say by 
remarking, "He is a man who once wore the cloth." 

There are many instances in sociological literature of the profound 
changes in an institution that accompany the decline of compulsion in its 
offices. Redfield, op. cit., tells how in towns and cities the fiesta becomes 
something of a secular enterprise. No longer is it a sacred festival, led by 
a cargador who accepted "the holy burden" from his predecessor. The 
Webbs, in English Local Government: the Parish and the County (London, 
1906), describe a similar decline of the sense of obligation to serve as 
parish officers in growing industrial towns. 

10. Max Weber, in his "Politik als Beruf" (Gesammelte politische 
Schriften, Munich, 1921, pp. 396-450), essays a natural history of various 
types of political office. He shows how certain offices, as that of sultan, be- 
came purely symbolic, while the wielding of political power and the risk 
of making mistakes were assumed by others. The position of the emperor 
of Japan is similar; the emperor is divine, but he speaks only through the 


Coming down to earth, the person cannot, apart from 
ritual, escape judgments. His peculiar social role asserts 
itself and may come into conflict with the office which he 
fills. The fusion of personal role and office is perhaps never 
complete save in ritual. 

One of the extreme forms in which one's personal role 
appears is that of a call or peculiar mission. The person's 
conception of his mission may carry him beyond the con- 
ception which others have of his office. As an office becomes 
defined, there arise devices by which one's fellows decide 
whether one is the person fit to fill it. The first leader of a 
sect may be "called" to his task; his successors, too, are 
"called," but the validity of the call is decided by other men, 
as well as by himself. 11 Thus the "call," a subjective assurance 
and compulsion, is brought under the control of one's fel- 
lows. But the sense of mission may be so strong that it makes 
the person impatient of the discipline exercised by his col- 
leagues. 12 

There are other ways in which personal role and office 
may conflict. It is sufficient for our present purposes to sug- 

voices of men. It is not suggested that these two features do not some- 
times appear in the same office. They do, as in the papacy. Offices vary 
in their proportions of symbol and action. 

11. See the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XV, "Vocation." While the 
Catholic church admits the possibility that divine light may be shed so 
abundantly upon a soul as to render deliberation about the validity of a 
vocation unnecessary in some cases, it does not regard such inner assurance 
necessary to vocation. The spiritual director is to discover and develop 
the germ of vocation by forming the character and encouraging "generosity 
of the will." The church insists that two wills should concur before one can 
enter the clergy: the will of the individual and the will of the church. 
The latter is "external vocation," which is "the admission of the candidate 
in due form by competent authority." 

12. The ardor of a person with a peculiar mission may become an 
insufferable reproach to his colleagues and contain a trace of insubordina- 
tion to his superiors. The neophyte who is too exalte can be borne, but a 
certain relaxation of ardor is demanded in course of time. In a well- 
established institution, ardor must be kept within the limits demanded by 
authority and decorum; it may not necessarily reach the state in which 
"men, fearing to outdo their duty, leave it half done," as Goldsmith said 
of the English clergy in his essay on education. 

[ 62 ] Men and Their Work 

gest that the very sense of personal role which leads one into 
an institutional office may make him chafe under its bonds. 
The economy of energy and will, devotion and judgment, 
peculiar to the individual does not completely disappear 
when he is clothed with an established, even a holy, office. 
The more secular offices make fewer formal demands upon 
the individual; they require less suppression of the indi- 
viduality. They are less symbolic and more subject to the 
test of effectiveness in action. A free, secular society, from 
this point of view, is one in which the individual may direct 
his energies toward new objects; one in which he may even 
succeed in creating a new office, as well as in changing the 
nature and functions of existing ones. 

Career and Office 

In any society there is an appropriate behavior of the 
child at each age. Normal development of personality in- 
volves passing in due time from one status to another. Some 
stages in this development are of long duration; others are 
brief. While some are thought of as essentially preparatory, 
and their length justified by some notion that the preparation 
for the next stage requires a set time, they are, nevertheless, 

In a relatively stable state of society, the passage from 
one status to another is smooth and the experience of each 
generation is very like that of its predecessor. In such a 
state the expected rate of passage from one status to another 
and an accompanying scheme of training and selection of 
those who are to succeed to instituted offices determine the 
ambitions, efforts, and accomplishments of the individual. 
In a society where major changes are taking place, the se- 
quence of generations in an office and that of offices in the 
life of the person are disturbed. A generation may be lost 
by disorder lasting only for the few years of passage through 
one phase. 


However one's ambitions and accomplishments turn, they 
involve some sequence of relations to organized life. In a 
highly and rigidly structured society, a career consists, ob- 
jectively, of a series of status and clearly defined offices. In 
a freer one, the individual has more latitude for creating his 
own position or choosing from a number of existing ones; he 
has also less certainty of achieving any given position. There 
are more adventurers and more failures; but unless complete 
disorder reigns, there will be typical sequences of position, 
achievement, responsibility, and even of adventure. The social 
order will set limits upon the individual's orientation of his 
life, both as to direction of effort and as to interpretation of 
its meaning. 

Subjectively, a career is the moving perspective in which 
the person sees his life as a whole and interprets the meaning 
of his various attributes, actions, and the things which hap- 
pen to him. This perspective is not absolutely fixed either 
as to points of view, direction, or destination. In a rigid 
society the child may, indeed, get a fixed notion of his des- 
tined station. Even in our society he may adopt a line of 
achievement as his own to the point of becoming impervious 
to conflicting ambitions. Consistent lines of interest and 
tough conceptions of one's destined role may appear early 
in life. 13 

13. Psychoanalysts trace to very lowly motives the lines of consistency 
in the individual's conception of his life and the way in which he disci- 
plines and marshals his efforts. Their more important point is that these 
phenomena rise out of intimate family relationships. They also use the 
term "mobility of the libido" (cf. Klein, "The Role of the School in the 
Libidinal Development of the Child." International Journal of Psycho- 
analysis, V [1924], 312-31) to indicate the child's capacity to transfer his 
affections and energies to objects in a larger world as he grows and extends 
his circle of activity. A great deal, however, remains to be done in the 
way of understanding the bearing of early experiences on the subsequent 
careers of persons. It is evident that the age, as well as the frequency, of 
appearance of a sense of career varies greatly from family to family and 
from class to class. The pressure on children to discipline themselves for 
careers likewise varies; the psychological by-products of these pressures 
want studying, for they seem sometimes to thwart the ends they seek. 

[ 64 ] Men and Their Work 

Whatever the importance of early signs of budding ca- 
reers, they rarely remain unchanged by experience. The 
child's conception of the social order in which adults live 
and move is perhaps more naive than are his conceptions of 
his own abilities and peculiar destiny. Both are revised in 
keeping with experience. In the interplay of his maturing 
personality and an enlarging world the individual must 
keep his orientation. 

Careers in our society are thought of very much in terms 
of jobs, for these are the characteristic and crucial connec- 
tions of the individual with the institutional structure. Jobs 
are not only the accepted evidence that one can "put himself 
over"; they also furnish the means whereby other things that 
are significant in life may be procured. But the career is by 
no means exhausted in a series of business and professional 
achievements. There are other points at which one's life 
touches the social order, other lines of social accomplishment 
— influence, responsibility, and recognition. 

A woman may have a career in holding together a family 
or in raising it to a new position. Some people of quite modest 
occupational achievements have careers in patriotic, religious, 
and civic organizations. They may, indeed, budget their ef- 
forts toward some cherished office of this kind rather than 
toward advancement in their occupations. It is possible to 
have a career in an avocation as well as in a vocation. 

Places of influence in our greater noncommercial or- 
ganizations are, however, open mainly to those who have 
acquired prestige in some other field. The governors of uni- 
versities are selected partly on the basis of their business suc- 
cesses. A recent analysis of the governing boards of settle- 
ment houses in New York City shows that they are made 
up of people with prestige in business and professional life, 

See H. D. Lasswell, World Politics and Personal Insecurity (New York, 
1935), pp. 210-12, for a discussion of "career lines." 


as well as some leisure and the ability to contribute some- 
thing to the budget. 14 

It would be interesting to know just how significant these 
offices appear to the people who fill them; and further, to 
whom they regard themselves responsible for the discharge 
of their functions. Apart from that question, it is of impor- 
tance that these offices are by-products of achievements of 
another kind. They are prerogatives and responsibilities ac- 
quired incidentally; it might even be said that they are exer- 
cised ex officio or ex statu. 

The interlocking of the directorates of educational, char- 
itable, and other philanthropic agencies is due perhaps not 
so much to a cabal as to the very fact that they are philan- 
thropic, philanthropy, as we know it, implies economic suc- 
cess; it comes late in a career. It may come only in the second 
generation of success. But when it does come, it is quite as 
much a matter of assuming certain prerogatives and respon- 
sibilities in the control of philanthropic institutions as of giv- 
ing money. These prerogatives and responsibilities form part 
of the successful man's conception of himself and part of the 
world's expectation of him. 15 

Another line of career characteristic of our society and 
its institutional organization is that which leads to the position 
of "executive." It is a feature of our society that a great 
many of its functions are carried out by corporate bodies. 
These bodies must seek the approval and support of the 
public, either through advertising or propaganda. Few insti- 
tutions enjoy such prestige and endowments that they can 
forego continued reinterpretation of their meaning and value 
to the community. This brings with it the necessity of having 
some set of functionaries who will act as promoters and 

14. Kennedy A. J., Farra, K., and Associates, Social Settlements in 
New York (New York, 1935), chap, xiv; T. Veblen, The Higher Learning 
in America (New York, 1918), p. 72 et passim. 

15. The Junior League frankly undertakes to train young women of 
leisure for their expected offices in philanthropic agencies. 

[ 66 ] Men and Their Work 

propagandists as well as administrators. Even such a tradi- 
tional profession as medicine and such an established or- 
ganization as the Roman Catholic church must have people 
of this sort. By whatever names they be called, their function 
is there and may be identified. 

Sometimes, as in the case of executive secretaries of medi- 
cal associations, these people are drawn from the ranks of 
the profession. In other cases they are drawn from outside. 
University presidents have often been drawn from the clergy. 
In the Y.M.C.A. the chief executive officer is quite often not 
drawn from the ranks of the "secretaries." But whether or 
not that be the case, the functions of these executive officers 
are such that they do not remain full colleagues of their pro- 
fessional associates. They are rather liaison officers between 
the technical staff, governing boards, and the contributing 
and clientele publics. Their technique is essentially a political 
one; it is much the same whether they act for a trade associa- 
tion, the Y.M.C.A., a hospital, a social agency, or a uni- 
versity. There is, indeed, a good deal of competition among 
institutions for men who have this technique, and some move- 
ment of them from one institution to another. They are also 
men of enthusiasm and imagination. The institution becomes 
to them something in which dreams may be realized. 16 

These enthusiastic men, skilled in a kind of politics nec- 
essary in a philanthropic, democratic society, often come to 
blows with the older hierarchical organization of the insti- 
tutions with which they are connected. Therein lies their 
importance to the present theme. They change the balance 
of power between the various functioning parts of institu- 

16. The reports made by the American Association of University Pro- 
fessors on conflicts between professors and college presidents sometimes 
reveal in an interesting way the characteristics of both and of the offices 
they fill. See Bulletin of the American Association of University Pro- 
fessors, XXI (March, 1935), pp. 224-66, "The University of Pittsburgh"; 
XIX (November, 1933), pp. 416-38, "Rollins College." 


tions. They change not only their own offices but those of 

Studies of certain other types of careers would likewise 
throw light on the nature of our institutions — as, for instance, 
the road to political office by way of fraternal orders, labor 
unions, and patriotic societies. Such careers are enterprises 
and require a kind of mobility, perhaps even a certain op- 
portunism, if the person is to achieve his ambitions. These 
ambitions themselves seem fluid, rather than fixed upon solid 
and neatly defined objectives. They are the opposites of 
bureaucratic careers, in which the steps to be taken for ad- 
vancement are clearly and rigidly defined, as are the pre- 
rogatives of each office and its place in the official hierarchy. 17 
It may be that there is a tendency for our social structure to 
become rigid, and thus for the roads to various positions to 
be more clearly defined. Such a trend would make more fate- 
ful each turning-point in a personal career. It might also 
require individuals to cut their conceptions of themselves to 
neater, more conventional, and perhaps smaller patterns. 

However that may be, a study of careers — of the moving 
perspective in which persons orient themselves with reference 
to the social order, and of the typical sequences and con- 
catenations of office — may be expected to reveal the nature 
and "working constitution" of a society. Institutions are but 
the forms in which the collective behavior and collective 
action of people go on. In the course of a career the person 
finds his place within these forms, carries on his active life 
with reference to other people, and interprets the meaning of 
the one life he has to five. 

17. Mannheim would limit the term "career" to this type of thing. 
Career success, he says, can be conceived only as Amtskarriere. At each 
step in it one receives a neat package of prestige and power whose size 
is known in advance. Its keynote is security; the unforeseen is reduced 
to the vanishing-point ("Uber das Wesen und die Bedeutung des wirt- 
schaftlichen Erfolgsstrebens," Archiv fur Sozialwissenschaft und Sozial- 
politik, LXIII [1930], p. 458 ff.). 


Social Role 
and The Division of Labor 

All of the many ways in which the work of human be- 
ings is studied lead back at some point to the obvious, yet 
infinitely subtle, fact of the division of labor. What is a 
job description if not a statement of what one worker, rather 
than another, does or is supposed to do? Similar reference to 
division of labor lies implicitly in study of the number and 
migrations of the labor force, of motive and effort, of basic 
capacities and the learning of skills, and in analysis of the 
price of labor, services and goods. 

The division of labor, in its turn, implies interaction; for 
it consists not in the sheer difference of one man's kind of 
work from that of another, but in the fact that the different 
tasks and accomplishments are parts of a whole to whose 
product all, in some degree, contribute. And wholes, in the 
human social realm as in the rest of the biological and in the 
physical realm, have their essence in interaction. Work as 
social interaction is the central theme of sociological and so- 
cial psychological study of work. 

Social role, the other term in my title, is useful only to 

Bulletin of the Committee on Human Development, University of 
Chicago, 1955. Pp. 32-38. Reprinted by permission. 



the extent that it facilitates analysis of the parts played by 
individuals in the interaction which makes up some sort of 
social whole. I am not sure that I would put up much of an 
argument against the objection that it is not a very useful 
term, provided the objector has a better one to refer to the 
same complex of phenomena. I would argue vociferously, 
however, if the objector implied either that social interaction 
is not an ever-present and crucial feature of human work, 
or that the social-psychological description of a division of 
labor implied by the term social role is of less importance 
than a description in terms of techniques. I would mention to 
the objector that even those who work in solitude are often 
interacting with a built-in father or with God himself, who 
is known to be worse than any flesh-and-blood slavedriver; 
and that those who toil upward in the night while their com- 
panions sleep may quite simply be seeking access to an as yet 
unknown, but more admired set of companions or colleagues. 
I will not define or further belabor these terms, social 
role and the division of labor, but rather illustrate some of 
their dimensions from those kinds of work which consist in 
doing something for, or to, people. I say for or to people 
intentionally, but not cynically. Any child in any school will 
sometimes believe that something is being done to him rather 
than for him; the boy in a reform school nearly always thinks 
so. The patient in a mental hospital is often convinced that 
things are being done to him for someone else; although it 
may be in the nature of his illness so to believe, he may 
nevertheless often be right. Even the person suffering from 
tuberculosis, although he knows he is ill and willingly under- 
goes treatment, considers that many of the rules of society 
and of the hospital, and even some parts of the treatment are 
done to him, rather than for his benefit. Even in short-term 
illnesses, the patient may view as indignities some of the 
things allegedly done for his recovery. At the least, he may 
think that they are done for the convenience of those who work 


[ 70 ] Men and Their Work 

in the hospital rather than for his comfort. These are but some 
of the simpler ambiguities in those kinds of work called per- 
sonal or professional services. Perhaps it is well to recall 
that the opposite of service is disservice, and that the line 
between them is thin, obscure and shifting. 

In many of the things which people do for one another, 
the for can be changed to to by a slight over-doing or by a 
shift of mood. The discipline necessary to that degree of 
order and quiet which will allow study in a class-room can 
easily turn into something perceived by the children as per- 
verse and cruel; their perceptions may be truer than the 
teacher's own self-perception. Wherever a modicum of power 
to discipline by tongue or force is essential to one's assigned 
task, the temptation to over-use it and even to get pleasure 
from it may be present, no matter whether one be a teacher, 
an attendant in a mental hospital, or a prison guard. The 
danger of major distortion of relationship and function within 
the framework of a formal office lurks wherever people go or 
are sent for help or correction: the school-room, the clinic, 
the operating room, the confessional booth, the undertaking 
parlor all share this characteristic. Whatever terms we even- 
tually may use to describe social interaction at work must be 
such that they will allow these subtle distortions of role or 
function to be brought to light and related to whatever are 
their significant correlates in personalities or situations. 

Another feature of the kinds of work in question lies in 
the peculiar ambiguities with respect to what is seen as hon- 
orable, respectable, clean and prestige-giving as against what 
is less honorable or respectable, and what is mean or dirty. 
The term profession in its earlier and more restricted usage 
referred to a very few occupations of high learning and pres- 
tige, whose practitioners did things for others. Law and medi- 
cine are the prototypes. Yet both of them have always required 
some sort of alliance, or, at least, some sort of terms with 
the lowliest and most despised of human occupations. It is 


not merely in Dickens' novels that lawyers have truck with 
process-servers, informants, spies and thugs. What the learned 
lawyers argue before an Appellate Court (and I hear that the 
cases used in law schools are almost all from Appellate 
Courts) is but a purified distillate of some human mess. A 
lawyer may be asked whether he and his client come into 
court with clean hands; when he answers, "yes," it may 
mean that someone else's hands are of necessity a bit grubby. 
For not only are some quarrels more respectable, more clean, 
than others; but also some of the kinds of work involved in 
the whole system (gathering evidence, getting clients, bring- 
ing people to court, enforcing judgments, making the com- 
promises that keep cases out of court) are more respected 
and more removed from temptation and suspicion than others. 
In fact, the division of labor among lawyers is as much one 
of respectability (hence of self concept and role) as of spe- 
cialized knowledge and skills. One might even call it a moral 
division of labor, if one keeps in mind that the term means 
not simply that some lawyers, or people in the various 
branches of law work, are more moral than others; but that 
the very demand for highly scrupulous and respectable law- 
yers depends in various ways upon the availability of less 
scrupulous people to attend to the less respectable legal prob- 
lems of even the best people. I do not mean that the good 
lawyers all consciously delegate their dirty work to others 
(although many do). It is rather a game of live and let live; 
a game, mind you, hence interaction, even though it* be a 
game of keeping greater than chance distances. 

As the system of which the lawyer's work is part reaches 
down into the nether regions of the unrespectable and out- 
ward to the limbo of guile and force, which people may 
think necessary but do not admire, so the physician's work 
touches the world of the morally and ritually, but more es- 
pecially of the physically unclean. Where his work leaves 
off, that of the undertaker begins; in some cultures and 

[ 72 ] Men and Their Work 

epochs they have shared the monopoly of certain functions 
and certain occult arts. The physician has always had also 
to have some connection (even though it be again the con- 
nection of competition or of studied avoidance) with the 
abortionist, with the "quacks" who deal with obscure and 
"social" diseases, as well as with the lesser occupations which 
also treat physical and mental troubles: the midwife, who 
has in certain places and times been suspected of being will- 
ing to do her work a bit prematurely; the blood-letter, who 
has at times been also the lowly barber; the bonesetter, who 
in mediaeval Italy was also the smith; and the masseur and 
keeper of baths, who is often suspected of enjoying his work 
too much. If the physician has high prestige — and he has 
had it at various times in history, although perhaps never 
more so than now — it is not so much sui generis, as by 
virtue of his place in the particular pattern of the medical 
division of labor at the time. Two features of that division 
of labor at present are ( 1 ) that the level of public confidence 
in the technical competence and good faith of the medical 
system is very high and (2) that nearly all of the medical 
functions have been drawn into a great system of interlock- 
ing institutions over which physicians have an enormous 
measure of control. (Only abortion remains outside, and 
even that can be said only with some qualification.) 

It is also a division of labor notorious for its rigid hier- 
archy. The ranking has something to do with the relative 
cleanliness of functions performed. The nurses, as they suc- 
cessfully rise to professional standing, are delegating the 
more lowly of their traditional tasks to aides and maids. No 
one is so lowly in the hospital as those who handle soiled 
linen; none so low in the mental hospital as the attendant, 
whose work combines some tasks that are not clean with 
potential use of force. But if there is no system in which the 
theme of uncleanliness is so strong, likewise there is none in 
which it is so strongly compensated for. Physical cleanliness of 


the human organism depends upon balances easily upset; the 
physician and his co-workers operate at the margins where 
these balances are, in fact, often upset. To bring back health 
(which is cleanliness) is the great miracle. Those who work 
the miracle are more than absolved from the potential un- 
cleanliness of their tasks; but those who perform the lowly 
tasks without being recognized as among the miracle-workers 
fare badly in the prestige rating. And this gives us a good 
case for rubbing in the point that the division of labor is 
more than a technical phenomenon; that there are infinite 
social-psychological nuances in it. 

Actually, in the medical world there are two contrary 
trends operating simultaneously. As medical technology de- 
velops and changes, particular tasks are constantly down- 
graded; that is, they are delegated by the physician to the 
nurse. The nurse in turn passes them on to the maid. But 
occupations and people are being upgraded, within certain 
limits. The nurse moves up nearer the doctor in techniques 
and devotes more of her time to supervision of other workers. 
The practical nurse is getting more training, and is beginning 
to insist on the prerogatives which she believes should go 
with the tasks she performs. New workers come in at the 
bottom of the hierarchy to take over the tasks abandoned by 
those occupations which are ascending the mobility ladder. 
Others come in outside the hierarchy as new kinds of tech- 
nology (photography, electronics, physics) find a place in the 
medical effort. Satisfactory definitions of role for these new 
people are notoriously lacking, and that in a system in which 
rigidly defined roles and ranks are the rule. Here we have 
indeed a good case for illustrating the point that a role defini- 
tion of a division of labor is necessary to complement any 
technical description of it. And the question arises of the effect 
of changes in technical division upon the roles involved. 
Sometimes a desired change of role is validated by a change 
in technical tasks (the nurses are an excellent example). 

[ 74 ] Men and Their Work 

Sometimes a change in technical division creates a role prob- 
lem, or a series of them. I think we may go further and say 
that when changes of either kind get under way the repercus- 
sions will be felt beyond the positions immediately affected, 
and may indeed touch every position in the system. Some 
roles in a division of labor may be more sensitive to changes 
in technique than are others. It seems probable, for instance, 
that some aspects of the basic relationships of nurse, physician 
and patient will not be greatly altered by the shifting of tech- 
nical tasks from one to the other and from both of them to 
other people in the medical system. (I purposely included the 
patient, for he has a part in the medical division of labor, too. ) 
There will probably always be in this system, as in others, 
someone whose role it is to make ultimate decisions, with 
all the risks that go with them and with all the protections 
necessary. This is the role of the physician. He has and jeal- 
ously guards more authority than he can, in many cases, 
actually assume. There will probably always be in the system, 
complementary to this position, another of the right-hand- 
man order; a position which defers to the first but which, 
informally, often must exceed its authority in order to protect 
the interests of all concerned. The nurse occupies this posi- 
tion. When the doctor isn't there, she may do some necessary 
thing which requires his approval — and get the approval 
when he comes back. She is the right-hand man of the physi- 
cian, even and perhaps especially when he isn't there. The 
nurse also sometimes fires furnaces and mends the plumbing, 
i.e., she does tasks of people below her or outside the role 
hierarchy of medicine. It hurts her, but she does it. Her place 
in the division of labor is essentially that of doing in a respon- 
sible way whatever necessary things are in danger of not being 
done at all. The nurse would not like this definition, but she 
ordinarily in practice rises to it. I believe that, if we were to 
take a number of systems of work in which things are done 
for people we could dig out a series of roles or positions which 


could be described in some such way, and could see the con- 
sequences for the roles of changes in technique and in other 
roles in the system. And I would defend the term role as a 
fair starting term in such an enterprise; for it suggests a part 
in a whole act involving other people playing, well or badly, 
their expected parts. 

I have been saying, in various rather indirect ways, that 
no line of work can be fully understood outside the social 
matrix in which it occurs or the social system of which it is 
part. The system includes, in most and perhaps in all cases, 
not merely the recognized institutional complex but reaches 
out and down into other parts of society. As in the case of 
law and even in medicine, there are usually some connections 
which we cannot easily or do not willingly follow out. There 
are also ambiguities and apparent contradictions in the com- 
binations of duties of any one occupation or position in an 
occupational system. 

One of the commoner failures in study of work is to 
overlook part of the interactional system. We speak of the 
physician and patient as a social system (as did the late Dr. 
L. J. Henderson in an article by that name), 1 or at most in- 
clude the nurse; or we speak of teacher and pupil, lawyer 
and client, and the like. Certainly in some occupations there 
is some basic relation such as these; a relation which is partly 
reality, partly stereotype, partly ideal nostalgically attributed 
to a better past or sought after in a better future. Perhaps the 
commonest complaint of people in the professions which per- 
form a service for others, is that they are somehow prevented 
from doing their work as it should be done. Someone interferes 
with this basic relation. The teacher could teach better were 
it not for parents who fail in their duty or school boards who 
interfere. Psychiatrists would do better if it were not for fam- 
ilies, stupid public officials, and ill-trained attendants. Nurses 

1. Henderson, L. J., "Physician and Patient as a Social System," The 
New England Journal of Medicine, 212 (November 1937), pp. 404-13. 

[ 76 ] Men and Their Work 

would do more nursing if it were not for administrative duties, 
and the carelessness of aides and maintenance people. Part of 
the complained-of interference is merely institutional. The in- 
stitutional matrix in which things are done for people is cer- 
tainly becoming more complex in most professional fields; 
there are more and more kinds of workers in a division of labor 
ever changing in its boundaries between one person's work 
and another's. But it is not so much the numbers of people 
who intervene that seems to bother the professional most; it 
is rather the differing conceptions of what the work really is 
or should be, of what mandate has been given by the public, 
of what it is possible to accomplish and by what means; as 
well as of the particular part to be played by those in each 
position, their proper responsibilities and rewards. Compared 
to the restrictions, resistances and distortions of purpose, 
assignments, and efforts in a school, a mental hospital, a 
social agency or a prison, the much studied restriction of 
production in a factory is simplicity itself. In the factory, there 
is at least fair consensus about what the object produced shall 
be. There is often no such consensus in institutions where 
things are done for or to people. 

Every one, or nearly every one of the many important 
services given people by professionals in our times is given in 
a complex institutional setting. The professional must work 
with a host of non-professionals (and the professionals or- 
dinarily are shortsighted enough to use that pejorative term 
ad nauseam). These other workers bring into the institutional 
complex their own conceptions of what the problem is, their 
own conceptions of their rights and privileges, and of their 
careers and life-fate. The philosophy — of illness, crime, re- 
form, mental health, or whatever — which they bring in is 
often that of another class or element of the population than 
that to which the professional belongs or aspires. Like most 
humans, they do not completely accept the role-definitions 
handed down from above, but in communication among their 


own kind and in interaction with the people served, treated, 
or handled, work out their own definition. They build up an 
ethos, and a system of rationalizations for the behavior they 
consider proper given the hazards and contingencies of their 
own positions. The proper study of the division of labor will 
include a look at any system of work from the points of view 
of all the kinds of people involved in it, whether their position 
be high or low, whether they are at the center or near the 
periphery of the system. And those who seek to raise stand- 
ards of practice (and their own status) in the occupations and 
institutions which do things for people would do well to study, 
in every case, what changes in the other positions or roles in 
the system will be wrought by changes in their own, and what 
problems will be created for other people by every new solu- 
tion of one of their own problems. 

Licence and Mandate 

An occupation consists, in part, of a successful claim of 
some people to licence to carry out certain activities which 
others may not, and to do so in exchange for money, goods 
or services. Those who have such licence will, if they have 
any sense of self-consciousness and solidarity, also claim a 
mandate to define what is proper conduct of others toward 
the matters concerned with their work. The licence may be 
nothing more than permission to carry on certain narrowly 
technical activities, such as installing electrical equipment, 
which it is thought dangerous to allow laymen to do. It may, 
however, include the right to live one's life in a style some- 
what different from that of most people. The mandate may 
go no further than successful insistence that other people 
stand back and give the workers a bit of elbow room while 
they do their work. It may, as in the case of the modern 
physician, include a successful claim to supervise and deter- 
mine the conditions of work of many kinds of people; in this 
case, nurses, technicians and the many others involved in 
maintaining the modern medical establishment. In the extreme 
case it may, as in the priesthood in strongly Catholic countries, 
include the right to control the thoughts and beliefs of whole 
populations with respect to nearly all the major concerns 
of life. 



Licence, as an attribute of an occupation, is ordinarily 
thought of as legal permission to carry on a kind of work. 
There is a great body of jurisprudence having to do with the 
matter of licence, both in principle and as it occurs in various 
occupations. I have in mind something both broader and 
deeper, something that is sometimes implicit and of undefined 
boundaries. For it is very difficult to define the boundaries 
of the licence to carry on a certain kind of activity. What I 
am talking of is a basic attribute of society. Occupations here 
offer us an extreme and highly lighted instance of a general 
aspect of all human societies. For society, by its very nature, 
consists of both allowing and expecting some people to do 
things which other people are not allowed or expected to do. 
All occupations — most of all those considered professions 
and perhaps those of the underworld — include as part of their 
very being a licence to deviate in some measure from common 
modes of behavior. Professions also, perhaps more than other 
kinds of occupations, claim a legal, moral and intellectual 
mandate. Not merely do the practitioners, by virtue of gain- 
ing admission to the charmed circle of colleagues, individually 
exercise the licence to do things others do not do, but col- 
lectively they presume to tell society what is good and right 
for the individual and for society at large in some aspect of 
life. Indeed, they set the very terms in which people may think 
about this aspect of life. The medical profession, for instance, 
is not content merely to define the terms of medical practice. 
It also tries to define for all of us the very nature of health 
and disease. When the presumption of a group to a broad 
mandate of this kind is explicitly or implicitly granted as 
legitimate, a profession has come into being. 

The understanding of the nature and extent of both licence 
and mandate, of their relations to each other and of the cir- 
cumstances in which they expand or contract is a crucial area 
of study not merely of occupations, but of society itself. In 
such licences and mandates we have the prime manifestation 

[ 80 ] Men and Their Work 

of the moral division of labor; that is, of the processes by 
which differing moral functions are distributed among the 
members of society, both as individuals and as kinds or cate- 
gories of individuals. Moral functions differ from each other 
both in kind and in measure. Some people seek and get 
special responsibility for defining the values and for establish- 
ing and enforcing social sanctions over some aspect of life. 
The differentiation of moral and social functions involves 
both the setting of the boundaries of realms of social behavior 
and the allocation of responsibility and power over them. One 
may indeed speak of jurisdictional disputes concerning the 
rights and the responsibilities of various occupations and 
categories of people in defining and maintaining the rules of 
conduct concerning various aspects of personal and social life. 

In these pages I mean to illustrate some of the problems 
of licence and mandate, and some of the relations between 

Many occupations cannot be carried out without guilty 
knowledge. The priest cannot mete out penance without be- 
coming an expert in sin; else how may he know the mortal 
from the venial. To carry out his mandate to tell people what 
books they may or may not read, and what thoughts and 
beliefs they must espouse or avoid, he must become a con- 
noisseur of the forbidden, as well of the right and holy. Only 
a master theologian can think up dangerously subtle heresies; 
hence is Satan of necessity a fallen angel. Few laymen have 
the sophistication to think up either original or very seductive 
heresies. The poor priest — at least in the Roman Catholic 
Church — as part of the very exchange involved in his licence 
to hear confessions and to absolve people of their sins, and 
in his mandate to tell us what is what with respect to matters 
moral and spiritual, has constantly to convince the layman 
that he does not yield to the temptations of his privileged 
position; he puts on a uniform which makes him a marked 
man and lives a celibate existence. These are compensating 


or counter-deviations from the common ways of dressing and 
living. They probably would not be admired, and perhaps 
would not even be tolerated, if practiced by people who have 
no special social functions to justify such peculiar conduct. 
The priest, in short, has both intellectual and moral leeway, 
and perhaps must have them if he is to carry out the rest of 
his licence and if he is to merit his great mandate. He carries 
a burden of guilty knowledge. 

The lawyer, the policeman, the physician, the newspaper 
reporter, the scientist, the scholar, the diplomat, the private 
secretary, all of them must have licence to get — and in some 
degree, to keep secret — some order of guilty, or at least po- 
tentially embarrassing and dangerous knowledge. It may be 
guilty in that it is knowledge that the layman would be obliged 
to reveal, or in that the withholding of it from the public or 
from legal authorities compromises, or may compromise, the 
integrity of the man who has it and who does withhold it. 
Such is the case of the policeman who keeps connections with 
the underworld and who fails to report some misdemeanors 
or crimes of which he knows. He may, of course, defend 
himself by saying that if he lets the small fish go he may be 
better able to catch the big one. Such also is the case of the 
diplomat who has useful friends abroad. Most occupations 
rest upon some explicit or implicit bargain between the prac- 
titioner and the individuals with whom he works, and between 
the occupation as a whole and society at large about receiving, 
keeping and the giving out of information gathered in course 
of one's work. The licence to keep this bargain is of the es- 
sence of many occupations. It is also a fundamental feature 
of all social and moral division of labor, thus of the social and 
moral order itself. 

The prototype of all guilty knowledge, however, is a way 
of looking at things different from that of most people and 
consequently potentially shocking to the lay mind. Every 
occupation must look in a relative way at some order of 

[ 82 ] Men and Their Work 

events, objects, and ideas. These must be classified. To be 
classified they must be seen comparatively. Their behavior 
must be analyzed and, if possible, predicted. A suitable tech- 
nical language must be developed so that colleagues may talk 
among themselves about these things. This technical — there- 
fore relative — attitude will have to be adopted toward the 
very people one serves; no profession can do its work without 
licence to talk in shocking terms about its clients and their 
problems. Sometimes an occupation must adopt this objective, 
comparative attitude toward things which are very dear to 
other people or which are indeed the object of absolutely 
held values and sentiments. I suppose this ultimate licence 
is the greatest when the people who exercise it — being guard- 
ians of precious things — are in a position to do great damage. 

Related to the licence to think relatively about dear things 
and absolute values is the licence to do dangerous things. I 
refer not to the danger run by the steeple-jack and by the men 
who navigate submarines, for that is danger merely to them- 
selves. (Even so there is a certain disposition to pay these 
people off with a licence to run slightly amok when the one 
comes down and the other up to solid ground.) I speak 
rather of the licence of the physician to cut and dose, of the 
priest to play with men's salvation, of the scientist to split 
atoms; or simply the danger that advice given a person may 
be wrong, or that work done may be unsuccessful or cause 

Such licence appears to be as chronically suspect as it is 
universal in occurrence. In the hearts of many laymen there 
burns a certain aggressive suspicion of all professionals, 
whether plumbers or physicians. In some people it flares up 
into raging and fanatical anger. There are angry people who 
have or believe that they have suffered injury from incom- 
petent or careless professionals or that they have been ex- 
ploited by being acted upon more for the professional's 
increase of knowledge, power, or income, than for the client's 


own well-being. Many anti-vivisectionists, according to Helen 
MacGill Hughes, are not those who love beasts more, but 
those who love physicians less, suspecting them of loving 
some parts of their work too much. 1 Occasionally such anger 
spreads as a popular reaction. Nowadays some professions 
have engaged public relations people to eradicate not merely 
the more open manifestations of suspicion and anger against 
them, but to root out deeper and perhaps more chronic feel- 
ings of suspicion of laymen against those who have licence 
to perform services for them. It is but natural that, our culture 
being what it is, professionals should be disturbed at not being 
utterly liked; on the other hand, the effort to destroy that last 
minim of suspicion may precipitate a new suspicion, that of 
the legitimacy of the public relations man himself. That sus- 
picion may in turn bring renewed suspicion of those who 
engage public relations men to influence public attitudes 
toward them. 

Herein lies the whole question of the nature of the bargain 
between those who receive a service and those who give it, 
and of the circumstances in which it is protested by either 
party. Of even greater sociological import is the problem of 
general questioning of licences or mandates. Social unrest 
often shows itself precisely in questioning of the prerogatives 
of the leading professions. In time of crisis, there may arise 
a general demand for more complete conformity of profes- 
sionals to lay modes of thought, discourse and action. 

One of the major professional deviations of mind, a form 
of guilty knowledge, is the objective and relative attitude 
mentioned above. One order of relativity has to do with time; 
the professional may see the present in longer perspective 
than does the layman. The present may be, for him, more 
crucial in that it is seen as a link in a causative chain of 
events; the consequences of present action may appear to 

1. "The Compleat Anti-vivisectionist," The Scientific Monthly, Vol. 
LXV, No. 6 (Dec. 1947), pp. 503-7. 

[ 84 ] Men and Their Work 

him as more inevitable, rippling down through time. The 
emergency, from this perspective, may appear greater to the 
professional than to the layman. In another sense, it may 
appear less crucial, since the professional sees the present 
situation in comparison with others; it is not unique. Hence 
the emergency is not so great as the affected layman may 
see it. 

Something like this seems to lie under the attack upon the 
Supreme Court following its recent decisions upon civil rights; 
and upon professors who insist on freedom to discuss all 
things in this time of Cold War. They are thought to be fid- 
dling legal and academic tunes while the Communists are 
burning the city of freedom. We may any moment now expect 
similar attack upon those who teach Greek poetry and philos- 
ophy while Sputniks are whirling in outer space. In time of 
crisis, detachment appears the most perilous deviation of all, 
the one least to be tolerated. The professional mind, in such 
a case, appears as a perversion of the common sense of what 
is urgent and what less urgent. The licence to think in longer 
perspective thus may appear dangerous. 

Militant religious sects give us an instructive case. They 
ordinarily, in Christianity at least, consist of people who are 
convinced that they are all in imminent danger of damnation. 
So long as they remain militant sects they are in chronic 
crisis. They consequently usually do not tolerate a professional 
clergy or much differentiation of spiritual function at all. It 
is as if they sense that the professionalizing of spiritual, as of 
other functions, inevitably brings some detachment, some 
relativity of attitude, some tendency to compare even the 
things of the soul. In a large society the clergy may generally 
be more ardent than most elements of the laity; a sect might 
almost be defined as a religious group in which the opposite 
is true. Inquisitions to the contrary, it is probable that profes- 
sional clergy tend to be more tolerant than the more ardent 
among the laymen. While it may seem paradoxical to suggest 


it, one may seriously ask under what circumstances religious 
people tolerate a professional clergy. 

The typical reform movement is a restless attempt of lay- 
men to redefine values, or at least to change the nature and 
tempo of action about some matter over which an occupa- 
tional group, or several occupations, holds a mandate. The 
movement may simply push for faster or more drastic action 
where the profession is moving slowly or not at all; it may 
be direct attack upon the dominant philosophy of the profes- 
sion, as in some attempts to change the manner of distributing 
medical care. The power of an occupation to protect its licence 
and to maintain its mandate, the circumstances in which they 
are attacked, lost or changed; all these are matters for investi- 
gation. Such investigation is study of politics in the very 
fundamental sense of studying constitutions. For constitutions 
are the fundamental relations between the effective estates 
which make up the body politic. In our society some occupa- 
tions are among the groups which most closely resemble what 
were once known as estates. While there has been a good deal 
of study of the political activities of occupational groups, the 
subject has been somewhat misunderstood as a result of the 
strong fiction of political neutrality in our society. Of course, 
a certain licence to be politically neutral has been allowed 
some occupations; but the very circumstances and limits of 
such neutrality are a matter for study. Special attention should 
be given the exchanges implied and the circumstances, some 
of which have been mentioned, in which licence is denied, 
and the ways in which it is violated and subverted from within 
and from without. A later chapter will present some data con- 
cerning the political neutrality of official statisticians — a group 
of professionals who consider themselves especially outside the 
political battle. 

I have not in these pages by any means exhausted con- 
sideration of the very many variations of licence and man- 
date and of the relations between them. School teachers in 

[ 86 ] Men and Their Work 

our society, as individuals, have but little licence to think 
thoughts which others don't think; they aren't even sup- 
posed to think the nastier thoughts that others do think. They 
have almost a negative licence in this regard, in that they 
are expected in many communities to be rather innocuous, 
although not heroic, examples to the young. Their mandate 
seems to be limited to defining matters of pedagogy and is 
strongly questioned even on that point. There are many peo- 
ple nowadays who would like a return to some previous 
form of pedagogy which they think superior to what they 
think is the prevailing method now. Certainly the teaching 
profession is not succeeding in this country in winning a 
mandate to say what things children shall be taught. Edu- 
cational policy is given into their hands but grudgingly. On 
the other hand, they have a great deal more licence in the 
handling of children than people believe, by a sort of de- 
fault. The ability of laymen to see just what goes on in a 
professional relationship involving the things and people 
dear to them is always somewhat limited. Durkheim referred 
to something which he called the impermeability of profes- 
sions to outside view and intervention. 2 

The educational profession also has a certain mandate by 
default, in addition to that which they have won by action 
and propaganda. The lay public in this, as in other matters, 
by its very lack of persistent and informed concern, leaves 
in the hands of professionals much of the definition of philos- 
ophy, law and action, with respect to a vital concern. 

The notions of licence and mandate could be applied to 
study of the underworld and of social deviation in general, 
and to the study of artists and entertainers. The people of 
the underworld have a considerable licence to deviate from 
ordinary norms of conduct; in fact, they get their living by 
helping respectable people escape these norms. But the li- 
cence of the underworld is never quite admitted. The way 

2. Op. cit. 


in which they find spokesmen and the nature of the ex- 
changes between them and the more respectable world have 
often been discussed as a pathology of politics. The full circle 
of exchanges, with all their implications, has not been anal- 
yzed with an eye to learning something fundamental about 
the very nature of social exchanges and hence about the na- 
ture of society itself. Study of the licence of artists and enter- 
tainers can also yield much knowledge concerning the de- 
grees of conformity in society and the consequences of trying 
to reduce deviation to something like zero. For these occu- 
pations seem to require, if they are to produce the very things 
for which society will give them a living of sorts (or, in 
some cases, unheard of opulence), at least some people who 
deviate widely from the norms more or less espoused and ad- 
hered to by other people. Their licence, however, is periodi- 
cally in a parlous state, and there seems to be no guarantee that 
it will not at any moment be attacked. On the other hand, 
it seems never permanently to be withdrawn. 

These remarks about licence, mandate and the moral 
division of labor are meant to introduce rather than to be 
a definitive analysis. They suggest one of the lines along 
which investigation about occupations becomes investigation 
of the nature of society itself. 


Mistakes at Work 

The comparative student of man's work learns about 
doctors by studying plumbers; and about prostitutes by study- 
ing psychiatrists. This is not to suggest any degree of similarity 
greater than chance expectation between the members of 
these pairs, but simply to indicate that the student starts with 
the assumption that all kinds of work belong in the same 
series, regardless of their places in prestige or ethical ratings. 
In order to learn, however, one must find a frame of refer- 
ence applicable to all cases without regard to such ratings. 
To this end, we seek for the common themes in human work. 
One such theme is that of routine and emergency. By this I 
mean that one man's routine of work is made up of the emer- 
gencies of other people. In this respect, the pairs of occupa- 
tions named above do perhaps have some rather close simi- 
larities. Both the physician and the plumber do practice 
esoteric techniques for the benefit of people in distress. The 
psychiatrist and the prostitute must both take care not to 
become too personally involved with clients who come to 
them with rather intimate problems. I believe that in the 
study of work, as in that of other human activities and insti- 
tutions, progress is apt to be commensurate with our ability 

The Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science. Vol. XVII, 
(August, 1951), pp. 320-27. Reprinted with permission. 



to draw a wide range of pertinent cases into view. The wider 
the range, the more we need a fundamental frame of reference. 
Another theme in human work is the problem of mistakes 
and failures. It, too, is found in all occupations. The more 
times per day a man does a given operation, the greater his 
chance of doing it wrong sometimes. True, his skill may 
become so great that his percentage of errors is nearly zero. 
It is common talk in the medical profession that certain sur- 
gical operations really ought not to be done at all, except 
in extremis, by men who do not have the opportunity to do 
them literally by the hundreds every year. In a large and 
favorably known hospital, the interns and residents — who 
are there to learn by practice — complain that the leading 
members of the surgical staff take all the interesting cases, 
not merely out of charity, but to keep their level of skill up 
to the point of least risk for the few patients who can pay 
a really high fee. This reduces the opportunities of the interns 
and residents to acquire skill. One may speak of a calculus 
of the probability of making mistakes, in which the variables 
are skill and frequency of performance. It is obvious that 
there are many possibilities. One who never performs a given 
action will never do it wrong. But one who has never tried 
it could not do it right if he were on some occasion compelled 
to try. This is the position of the layman with reference to 
many skills. Some skills require more repetition than others 
for the original learning and for maintenance. In some, even 
the most proficient make many failures, while in others the 
top level of skill is close to perfection. Occupations, con- 
sidered as bundles of skills, are subject to the contingencies 
contained in all combinations of these factors of learning 
and of maintaining skill, and, correlatively, subject to varia- 
tions in the probability that one will sometimes make mistakes. 
These are matters in which experimental and vocational psy- 
chologists are much interested and on which they are doing 
significant work. 

[ 90 ] Men and Their Work 

But there are other factors in this problem of mistakes 
and failures. Some mistakes are more fateful than others, 
either for the person who makes them, for his colleagues, 
or for the persons upon whom the mistakes are made. Those 
who train students for research which requires receiving the 
confidences of living people and getting and keeping entree 
to groups and institutions of various sorts are aware of this 
problem. (We are at present working on a project to dis- 
cover how to train students to a high level of skill in social 
observation with the least risk of damage to all concerned.) 
In occupations in which mistakes are fateful and in which 
repetition on living or valuable material is necessary to learn 
the skills, it is obvious that there is a special set of problems 
of apprenticeship and of access to the situations in which 
the learning may be done. Later on, when the neophyte is 
at his work, there arises the problem of his seeming always 
to have known how, since the very appearance of being a 
learner is frightening. At any rate, there are psychological, 
physical, social, and economic risks in learning and doing 
one's work. And since the theoretical probability of making 
an error some day is increased by the very frequency of 
the operations by which one makes one's living, it becomes 
natural to build up some rationale to carry one through. It 
is also to be expected that those who are subject to the same 
work risks will compose a collective rationale which they 
whistle to one another to keep up their courage, and that 
they will build up collective defenses against the lay world. 
These rationales and defenses contain a logic that is some- 
what like that of insurance, in that they tend to spread the 
risk psychologically (by saying that it might happen to any- 
one), morally, and financially. A study of these risk-spreading 
devices is an essential part of comparative study of occupa- 
tions. They have a counterpart in the devices which the 
individual finds for shifting some of the sense of guilt from 
his own shoulders to those of the larger company of his 


colleagues. Perhaps this is the basis of the strong identification 
with colleagues in work in which mistakes are fateful, and in 
which even long training and a sense of high calling do not 
prevent errors. 

Now let us approach the subject from the side of the 
person who, since he receives the services, will suffer from 
the mistakes when they are made. In a certain sense, we 
actually hire people to make our mistakes for us. The division 
of labor in society is not merely, as is often suggested, tech- 
nical. It is also psychological and moral. We delegate certain 
things to other people, not merely because we cannot do 
them, but because we do not wish to run the risk of error. 
The guilt of failure would be too great. Perhaps one reason 
why physicians do work gratis for each other's families is to 
keep completely free from the economic necessity of treating 
people with whom they are so closely involved that mistakes 
would be too hard to face. 

Sometimes a person requires an assurance that can be 
had only by being in a strictly lay frame of mind. Belief in 
the charism of skill is a lay, rather than a professional, atti- 
tude. The professional attitude is essentially statistical; it 
deals in probabilities. But there are matters about which we 
prefer to think in absolutes. In dealing with such matters we 
delegate the relative way of thinking to another, who becomes 
our agent. He runs our risks for us. We like to believe him 
endowed with charism. Ray Gold, who studied some of the 
building trades, found that the housewife likes to believe 
that the plumber she calls in is perfect, not merely relatively 
good. He keeps the mysterious entrails of her precious house 
in order. How much more does one want to believe abso- 
lutely in one's dentist, lawyer, physician, and priest. (There 
are of course other non-technical factors involved in delega- 
tion of tasks. Some work is infra dignitate. Some is necessary, 
but shady, or forbidden by one's particular taboos and aver- 

[ 92 ] Men and Their Work 

Now this does not mean that the person who delegates 
work, and hence, risk, will calmly accept the mistakes which 
are made upon him, his family, or his property. He is quick 
to accuse; and if people are in this respect as psychiatrists 
say they are in others, the more determined they are to escape 
responsibility, the quicker they may be to accuse others for 
real or supposed mistakes. 

In fact, I suppose that we all suspect just a little the ob- 
jectivity of those to whom we delegate the more fateful of 
our problems. We suspect them for that very experimental 
spirit which we know is, in some degree, necessary to hardy 
and progressive skill in meeting our crises. Thus there is 
probably always some ambivalence in our feelings towards 
the people whom we hire to make our mistakes, or at least 
to run the risk of making them. The whole problem or set 
of problems involved in delegating work — and risks — to 
others is one on which there is not much to be found in the 
anthropological, sociological, or psychological literature. For 
each occupation that one studies one should, I believe, seek 
to determine just what it is that is delegated to the persons 
in the occupation and what are the attitudes and feelings 
involved on both sides. 

We now have before us the problem and the characters. 
The characters are the people who, because they do some- 
thing often and for others, run the risk of making mistakes 
and of causing injury; and those other people who, for tech- 
nical, economic, psychological, moral, or status reasons, dele- 
gate some of their tasks and problems to others and who there- 
fore may have mistakes made upon them and at their expense. 
These are not really two kinds of people, but are the same 
people in different roles. The relation of these two roles is 
part of the personal adjustment of everyone who works. The 
problem is the reduction and absorption of the risk of failure 
on both sides, and of the kinds of conflicts within and between 


persons, which arise from the risk of error, mistakes, and 

As soon as we go into these problems we are faced with 
another: that of defining what a failure or mistake is in any 
given line of work or in a given work operation. This leads 
to still another, which turns out to be the significant one for 
the social drama of work: Who has the right to say what a 
mistake or a failure is? The findings on this point are fairly 
clear; a colleague-group (the people who consider them- 
selves subject to the same work risks) will stubbornly defend 
its own right to define mistakes, and to say in the given case 
whether one has been made. 1 Howard S. Becker has found 
that professional jazz musicians will do considerable injury 
to themselves rather than let any layman, even the one who 
is paying their wages, say that a musician is playing badly 
or even that he has struck the wrong note. An orchestra leader 
who would even relay a layman's complaint to a member of 
his band would be thought already on the road to becoming 
a "square," one of those outsiders who do not understand 
jazz music. Now you may say that jazz music is so lacking 
in any canons of correctness that there is no such thing as a 
single false note within the larger noise. It is all a matter of 
individual opinion. There is no clear and objective standard 
by which a judgment can be made. 

But how clear is it in other lines of work? When one 
starts comparing occupations in this regard one finds that in 
most of them it is very difficult to establish criteria of success 
or failure, and of mistakes as against proper execution of 

1. The colleague-group does not in all cases succeed in getting and 
keeping this right. Perhaps they do not always want the full responsibility 
of convicting one another of error and of applying sanctions. It would be 
more correct to say that a kind of jurisprudence of mistakes is an essential 
part of the study of any occupation. Professor Norman Ward has sug- 
gested that a study of the official error in baseball would throw light on 
the processes involved. 

[ 94 ] Men and Their Work 

work. The cases where all parties to the work drama would 
agree are few indeed. In factories which make precision parts 
the criteria are finely measured tolerances, but usually there 
is an informally agreed upon set of tolerances which are 
slightly looser than those in the book. Workmen and inspectors 
are continually at odds over the difference, even when the 
workmen want the parts they make to be workable. This is 
a case of the clearest kind of criterion. In medicine the 
criteria of success and failure are often far from clear. Dr. 
Bruno Bettelheim recently stated that psychotherapists do 
not discuss together their successes and failures because there 
are no standards to go by; that is why, he said, they spend so 
much time discussing whether their historical reconstructions 
of the troubles of their patients are correct or not. Health is, 
after all, a relative matter. Most people are interested in 
making the old body do as long as possible; this makes medi- 
cine quite a different matter from the automobile industry 
(where the garage man makes his work easier by persuading 
you the old car isn't worth mending). 

Even where the standards may be a little clearer than in 
medicine and education, the people who work and those 
who receive the product as goods or services will have quite 
different degrees and kinds of knowledge of the probabili- 
ties and contingencies involved. The colleague-group will 
consider that it alone fully understands the technical con- 
tingencies, and that it should therefore be given the sole right 
to say when a mistake has been made. The layman, they may 
contend, cannot even at best fully understand the contin- 
gencies. This attitude may be extended to complete silence 
concerning mistakes of a member of the colleague-group, 
because the very discussion before a larger audience may 
imply the right of the layman to make a judgment; and it 
is the right to make the judgment that is most jealously 

In some occupations it is assumed that anyone on the 


inside will know by subtle gestures when his colleagues be- 
lieve a mistake has been made. Full membership in the 
colleague-group is not attained until these gestures and their 
meaning are known. When they are known, there need not 
be conscious and overt discussion of certain errors even 
within the colleague-group. And when some incident makes 
an alleged failure or mistake a matter of public discussion, 
it is perhaps the feeling that outsiders will never understand 
the full context of risk and contingency that makes colleagues 
so tight-lipped. And if matters have gone to such a point 
that mistakes and failures are not freely discussed even within 
the trusted in-group, public discussion may be doubly feared; 
for in addition to questioning the prerogative of in-group 
judgment, the outside inquisitor lifts the veil from the group's 
own hidden anxieties, the things colleagues do not talk about 
even among themselves. This may be the source of the rather 
nervous behavior of school teachers when my colleagues 
and I report to them — at their own request — some of the 
things we are finding out about them. 

One of the differences between lay and professional 
thinking concerning mistakes is that to the layman the tech- 
nique of the occupation should be pure instrument, pure 
means to an end, while to the people who practice it, every 
occupation tends to become an art. David Riesman, 2 who 
was once a clerk to Justice Brandeis, and an assistant in the 
office of the District Attorney of New York, tells of the won- 
derful briefs which young lawyers draw up for presentation 
to lower court judges who can scarcely read them, much 
less judge the law that is in them. The ritual of looking up 
all the past cases, and the art of arguing out all possibilities 
are gone through, even when the lawyer knows that the deci- 
sion will be made upon a much simpler — perhaps also a 

2. "Toward an Anthropological Science of Law and the Legal Profes- 
sion," The American Journal of Sociology, LVII (September, 1951), pp. 

[ 96 ] Men and Their Work 

much sounder — basis. What is more: the ritual and the art 
are respected, and the men who perform them with brilliance 
and finesse are admired. The simple client may be dazzled, 
but at some point he is also likely to think that he is being 
done by the whole guild of lawyers, including his own, the 
opposing counsel, and the court. In a sense, the art and 
cult of the law are being maintained at his expense. The legal 
profession believes, in some measure, in the cult of the law. 
The individual case is thought of not merely as something 
to be decided, but as part of the stream of observance of the 
cult of the law. 

And here we come to the deeper point of Dr. Bettelheim's 
remark concerning his own colleagues, the psychotherapists. 
A part of their art is the reconstruction of the history of the 
patient's illness. This may have some instrumental value, 
but the value put upon it by the practitioners is of another 
order. The psychotherapists, perhaps just because the stand- 
ards of cure are so uncertain, apparently find reassurance in 
being adept at their art of reconstruction (no doubt accom- 
panied by faith that skill in the art will bring good to patients 
in the long run). 

Another example of these ways of thinking is to be found 
in social work. This profession is said to make a distinction 
between successful and professional handling of a case. The 
layman thinks of success as getting the person back on his 
feet, or out of his trouble. The social worker has to think 
of correct procedure, of law, of precedent, of the case as 
something which leaves a record. She also appreciates skilful 
interviewing, and perhaps can chuckle over some case which 
was handled with subtlety and finish, although the person 
never got "well" (whatever that would be in social work). 

In teaching, where ends are very ill-defined — and conse- 
quently mistakes are equally so — where the lay world is quick 
to criticize and blame, correct handling becomes ritual as 
much as or even more than an art. If a teacher can prove 


that he has followed the ritual, the blame is shifted from him- 
self to the miserable child or student; the failure can be and 
is put upon them. 

Ritual is also strongly developed in occupations where 
there are great unavoidable risks, as in medicine. In such 
occupations the ritual may, however, be stronger in the sec- 
ond and third ranks of the institutions in which the work is 
done. Thus, in medicine, the physician, who stands at the 
top of the hierarchy, takes the great and final risks of deci- 
sion and action. These risks are delegated to him, and he is 
given moral and legal protection in taking them. But the 
pharmacist, who measures out the prescribed doses, and 
the nurse, who carries out the ordered treatment, are the 
great observers of ritual in medicine. Pharmacists are said 
often to become ritualistic wipers and polishers, flecking in- 
finitely small grains of dust from scales on which they are 
only going to weigh out two pounds of Paris green. The 
ritualistic punctiliousness of nurses and pharmacists is a kind 
of built-in shock-absorber against the possible mistakes of 
the physician. Indeed, in dramatizing their work, these sec- 
ond-rank professions explicitly emphasize their role as saviors 
of both patient and physician from the errors of the latter. 
And here again we get a hint of what may be the deeper 
function of the art, cult, and ritual of various occupations. 
They may provide a set of emotional and even organizational 
checks and balances against both the subjective and the ob- 
jective risks of the trade. 

I suspect that it is a rare occupation whose practitioners 
develop no criteria of good work, and no concept of mistake 
or failure other than simply defined successful conclusion 
of the given case or task. Usually the professional judgment 
will contain explicit or implicit references to an art, a cult, 
and a ritual. The function of the art, cult, and ritual is not 
so much to bring the individual case to an early successful 
conclusion as to relate it to the on-going occupation itself, 

[ 98 ] Men and Their Work 

and to the social system in which the work is done. In most 
occupations, a man can be judged as quite wrong by his 
colleagues for an action which the lay client might consider 
very successful indeed. The quack, defined functionally and 
not in evaluative terms, is the man who continues through 
time to please his customers but not his colleagues. On the 
contrary, a man may be considered by his colleagues to 
have done a piece of work properly and without error, even 
when the client may accuse him of error, mistake, or failure. 

In this remarks I have mentioned two concepts of great 
importance for study of the universal work drama. One is 
the concept of role; the other, that of social system. A person, 
asked what his work is, can answer in two ways. He can say 
what he does: I make beds, I plumb teeth. Or he can say who 
he is: I am the person who does so and so. In the latter 
case he is naming his role. A large part of the business of 
protecting one's self from the risks of one's own work mis- 
takes lies in definition of role; and in some occupations, one 
of the rewards is definition of one's role in such a way as 
to show that one helps protect people from the mistakes of 
others. Now, roles imply a system of social arrangements. 
Most work is done in such systems. Part of the function of 
these systems is to delegate, to spread, or, in some cases, 
to concentrate, the risk and the guilt of mistakes; and also 
to spread and to allocate the losses which result from them. 
The details of these matters are better left until they have 
been worked out more fully. 

This one example of sociological analysis prompts some 
remarks concerning the academic division of labor with ref- 
erence to human work. In the historical and conventional 
division of academic labor, work has belonged to the econo- 
mists, as do voters and kings to the political scientist, and 
fun and vice to the sociologist. The historian handled any- 
thing which had been written down on paper or other ma- 
terial long enough ago for the author, his characters, and 


all the relatives of both to be so long dead that no one would 
bring a libel suit. Indeed, it was better if they were in danger 
of being forgotten, for the historian's fame depended on re- 
discovering them. But his mandate allowed him to tell all 
about his characters — their work, their politics, and their 
gambols. The anthropologist went about the earth on one- 
man expeditions discovering people who didn't write and 
hadn't been written about. Since he was alone in the field 
and since his reputation depended upon his being the first 
there, he looked at everything from hair texture and the 
shape of shin bones to religion, art, kinship, crime, and even 
the technique and organization of work, and the distribution 
of the products of labor. 

Now the division of academic labor, like other human 
arrangements, is as much the result of social movements as 
of logic. Some persons in, or on the periphery of, academic 
life are seized, from time to time, with a new preoccupation. 
They pursue it and their successors nourish it. The third 
generation will have refined out of it some pure essence which 
will be called a social science; but they will not ordinarily 
have yielded to anyone else the original liquor from which 
their essence was distilled. Thus, the pure essence of eco- 
nomic reasoning was abstracted from preoccupation with all 
sorts of things having to do with the material and moral 
welfare of man, as may be seen in Adam Smith's The Wealth 
of Nations. Since the quantities which would appear in place 
of the letters in economic equations — if some economist 
were to be so impure as to make such a substitution — would 
include the price of the labor used in manufacturing and 
distributing those goods which are produced in sufficient 
quantities to fit the formulae, it is quite natural that work 
should have been one of the preoccupations of the economist. 
Indeed, it was natural that economists should extend their 
interest to whatever might affect the price and supply of 
labor: migration, the birth-rate, religion and philosophy, laws, 

[ 100 ] Men and Their Work 

trade unions, politics, and even mental and physical capaci- 
ties, although the latter have become the psychologists' claim 
to entry into the factory. Economists have been interested in 
those distractions from labor which have more lately been 
the concern of the sociologist, but which Daniel Defoe, who 
never heard of sociology, commented upon in The True- 
Born Englishman: 

The lab'ring poor, in spight of double pay 
Are sawcy, mutinous and beggarly 
So lavish of their money and their time 
That want of forecast is the nation's crime 
Good drunken company is their delight 
And what they get by day, they spend by night. 

If the occupation of the economist be economic reasoning, 
in ever more sophisticated formulae, human work continues 
to be one of his preoccupations. And this illustrates the fate 
of each branch of social science; that while it refines and 
purifies its theoretical core, its logic, it can never free itself 
from the human mess. Wallowing there, each purist will find 
himself in the company of others who, although they seek 
to create a different pure product of logic, must extract it 
from this same mess. It might be of some use, in these days 
of the cult of collaboration between the social disciplines, for 
us to understand the social movements out of which the vari- 
ous social sciences have come, and the consequent develop- 
ment in each not merely of a central and distinguishing logic, 
but of a large periphery or halo of preoccupation with institu- 
tions and events. It is, I believe, treading upon a pre-empted 
area of events and institutions that brings accusation of aca- 
demic trespass, rather than borrowing its fundamental logic. 
Thus a sociologist should stay out of factories because the 
economist was there first. The economist should stay out of 
the family. Neither of them should be caught in an insane 
asylum, which is the domain of psychiatrists. 


But, to the extent that there is some logic in the academic 
division of labor, representatives of each discipline will be 
found studying not merely some one institution but any events 
which yield to effective analysis by their particular logic. 
Economics will cease to be merely — if it ever was — the science 
of markets; anthropology, of primitive peoples; education, of 
what happens in schools; sociology, of families, churches, play- 
grounds, settlement houses, and prisons. 

Human work, including the institutions in which people 
work for a living, has become one of the lively fr >ntiers on 
which social scientists meet. Without belaboring the point, I 
refer you to V. W. Bladen for an acute analysis of what is hap- 
pening among economists, anthropologists, and sociologists 
on this frontier. 3 Work, I submit, is in all human societies an 
object of moral rule, of social control in the broadest sense, 
and it is precisely all the processes involved in the definition 
and enforcement of moral rule that form the core problems 
of sociology. 

3. "Economics and Human Relations," The Canadian Journal of Eco- 
nomics and Political Science, Vol. 14 (August, 1948), pp. 301-11. 


Dilemmas and 
Contradictions of Status 

It is doubtful whether any society ever had so great a variety 
of statuses or recognized such a large number of status- 
determining characteristics as does ours. The combinations 
of the latter are, of course, times over more numerous than 
the characteristics themselves. In societies where statuses* 
are well defined and are entered chiefly by birth or a few 
well-established sequences of training or achievement, the 
particular personal attributes proper to each status are woven 
into a whole. They are not thought of as separate entities. 
Even in our society, certain statuses have developed char- 
acteristic patterns of expected personal attributes and a way 
of life. To such, in the German language, is applied the term 

Few of the positions in our society, however, have re- 
mained fixed long enough for such an elaboration to occur. 

The American Journal of Sociology. Vol L (March, 1945), pp. 353-59. 
Reprinted with permission. 

* "Status" is here taken in its strict sense as a defined social position 
for whose incumbents there are defined rights, limitations of rights, and 
duties. See the Oxford Dictionary and any standard Latin lexicon. Since 
statuses tend to form a hierarchy, the term itself has — since Roman times — 
had the additional meaning of rank. 



We put emphasis on change in the system of positions which 
make up our social organization and upon mobility of the 
individual by achievement. In the struggle for achievement, 
individual traits of the person stand out as separate entities. 
And they occur in peculiar combinations which make for 
confusion, contradictions, and dilemmas of status. 

I shall, in this paper, elaborate the notion of contradic- 
tions and dilemmas of status. Illustrations will be taken from 
professional and other occupational positions. The idea was 
put into a suggestive phrase by Robert E. Park 1 when he wrote 
of the "marginal man." He applied the term to a special 
kind of case — the racial hybrid — who, as a consequence of 
the fact that races have become defined as status groups, 
finds himself in a status dilemma. 

Now there may be, for a given status or social position, 
one or more specifically determining characteristics of the 
person. Some of them are formal, or even legal. No one, 
for example, has the status of physician unless he be duly 
licensed. A foreman is not such until appointed by proper 
authority. The heavy soprano is not a prima donna in more 
than temperament until formally cast for the part by the 
director of the opera. For each of these particular positions 
there is also an expected technical competence. Neither the 
formal nor the technical qualifications are, in all cases, so 
clear. Many statuses, such as membership in a social class, 
are not determined in a formal way. Other statuses are ill- 
defined both as to the characteristics which determine iden- 
tification with them and as to their duties and rights. 

There tends to grow up about a status, in addition to 
its specifically determining traits, a complex of auxiliary 
characteristics which come to be expected of its incumbents. 
It seems entirely natural to Roman Catholics that all priests 

1. Park, Robert E., "Human Migration and the Marginal Man," Ameri- 
can Journal of Sociology, Vol. XXXIII (May, 1928), pp. 881-93. Also in 
Park, Robert E., Race and Culture. Glencoe (111.), 1950. 

[ 104 ] Men and Their Work 

should be men, although piety seems more common among 
women. In this case the expectation is supported by formal 
rule. Most doctors, engineers, lawyers, professors, managers, 
and supervisors in industrial plants are men, although no 
law requires that they be so. If one takes a series of charac- 
teristics, other than medical skill and a licence to practice it, 
which individuals in our society may have, and then thinks 
of physicians possessing them in various combinations, it 
becomes apparent that some of the combinations seem more 
natural and are more acceptable than others to the great 
body of potential patients. Thus a white, male, Protestant 
physician of old American stock and of a family of at least 
moderate social standing would be acceptable to patients of 
almost any social category in this country. To be sure, a 
Catholic might prefer a physician of his own faith for rea- 
sons of spiritual comfort. A few ardent feminists, a few race- 
conscious Negroes, a few militant sectarians, might follow 
their principles to the extent of seeking a physician of their 
own category. On the other hand, patients who identify them- 
selves with the "old stock" may, in an emergency, take the 
first physician who turns up. 2 

If the case is serious, patients may seek a specialist of 
some strange or disliked social category, letting the repu- 
tation for special skill override other traits. The line may 
be crossed also when some physician acquires such renown 

2. A Negro physician, driving through northern Indiana, came upon 
a crowd standing around a man just badly injured in a road accident. The 
physician tended the man and followed the ambulance which took him to 
the hospital. The hospital authorities tried to prevent the physician from 
entering the hospital for even long enough to report to staff physicians 
what he had done for the patient. The same physician, in answer to a 
Sunday phone call asking him to visit a supposedly very sick woman, 
went to a house. When the person who answered the door saw that the 
physician was a Negro, she insisted that they had not called for a doctor 
and that no one in the house was sick. When he insisted on being paid, 
the people in the house did so, thereby revealing their he. In the first in- 
stance, an apparently hostile crowd accepted the Negro as a physician be- 
cause of urgency. In the second, he was refused presumably because the 
emergency was not great enough. 


that his office becomes something of a shrine, a place of 
wonderful, last-resort cures. Even the color line is not a 
complete bar to such a reputation. On the contrary, it may 
add piquancy to the treatment of a particularly enjoyed 
malady or lend hope to the quest for a cure of an "incurable" 
ailment. Allowing for such exceptions, it remains probably 
true that the white, male, Protestant physician of old Ameri- 
can stock, although he may easily fail to get a clientele at 
all, is categorically acceptable to a greater variety of pa- 
tients than is he who departs, in one or more particulars, 
from this type. 

It is more exact to say that, if one were to imagine patients 
of the various possible combinations of these same charac- 
teristics (race, sex, religion, ethnic background, family stand- 
ing), such a physician could treat patients of any of the 
resulting categories without a feeling by the physician, pa- 
tient, or the surrounding social circle that the situation was 
unusual or shocking. One has only to make a sixteen-box 
table showing physicians of the possible combinations of race 
(white and Negro) and sex with patients of the possible com- 
binations to see that the white male is the only resulting kind 
of physician to whom patients of all the kinds are completely 
accessible in our society (see Table 1). 

One might apply a similar analysis to situations involv- 
ing other positions, such as the foreman and the worker, 
the teacher and the pupil. Each case may be complicated 
by adding other categories of persons with whom the person 
of the given position has to deal. The teacher, in practice, 
has dealings not only with pupils but with parents, school 
boards, other public functionaries, and, finally, his own 
colleagues. Immediately one tries to make this analysis, it 
becomes clear that a characteristic which might not inter- 
fere with some of the situations of a given position may inter- 
fere with others. 

I do not maintain that any considerable proportion of 

[ 106 ] Men and Their Work 

people do consciously put together in a systematic way their 
expectations of persons of given positions. I suggest, rather, 
that people carry in their minds a set of expectations con- 
cerning the auxiliary traits properly associated with many 
of the specific positions available in our society. These ex- 
pectations appear as advantages or disadvantages to persons 
who, in keeping with American social belief and practice, 
aspire to positions new to persons of their kind. 

The expected or "natural" combinations of auxiliary char- 
acteristics become embodied in the stereotypes of ordinary 
talk, cartoons, fiction, the radio, and the motion picture. 
Thus, the American Catholic priest, according to a popular 
stereotype, is Irish, athletic, and a good sort who with diffi- 
culty refrains from profanity in the presence of evil and 
who may punch someone in the nose if the work of the Lord 
demands it. Nothing could be farther from the French or 
French-Canadian stereotype of the good priest. The surgeon, 
as he appears in advertisements for insurance and pharma- 
ceutical products, is handsome, socially poised, and young 
of face but gray about the temples. These public, or publicity, 
stereotypes — while they do not necessarily correspond to the 
facts or determine people's expectations — are at least sig- 
nificant in that they rarely let the person in the given posi- 
tion have any strikes against him. Positively, they represent 
someone's ideal conception; negatively, they take care not 
to shock, astonish, or put doubts into the mind of a public 
whose confidence is sought. 

If we think especially of occupational status, it is in the 
colleague-group or fellow-worker group that the expectations 
concerning appropriate auxiliary characteristics are worked 
most intricately into sentiment and conduct. They become, 
in fact, the basis of the colleague-group's definition of its com- 
mon interests, of its informal code, and of selection of those 
who become the inner fraternity — three aspects of occupa- 


tional life so closely related that few people separate them 
in thought or talk. 

The epithets "hen doctor," "boy wonder," "bright young 
men," and "brain trust" express the hostility of colleagues 
to persons who deviate from the expected type. The members 
of a colleague-group have a common interest in the whole 
configuration of things which control the number of potential 
candidates for their occupation. Colleagues, be it remem- 
bered, are also competitors. A rational demonstration that 
an individual's chances for continued success are not jeop- 
ardized by an extension of the recruiting field for the posi- 
tion he has or hopes to attain, or by some short-cutting of 
usual fines of promotion, does not, as a rule, liquidate the 
fear and hostility aroused by such a case. Oswald Hall found 
that physicians do not like one of their number to become 
a consultant too soon. 3 Consulting is something for the crown- 
ing, easing-off years of a career; something to intervene 

Table I 4 

PATIENT While Male White Female Negro Male Negro Female 

White Male 

White Female 

Negro Male 

Negro Female 

briefly between high power and high blood-pressure. He 
who pushes for such practice too early shows an "aggressive- 
ness" which is almost certain to be punished. It is a threat 
to an order of things which physicians — at least, those of the 

3. Hall, Oswald. "The Informal Organization of Medical Practice." 

Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. University of Chicago, 1944. , "The 

Stages of a Medical Career," The American Journal of Sociology, LIII, 
(March 1948), pp. 327-36. 

4. Cf. Williams, Josephine J., "Patients and Prejudice; Lay Attitudes 
toward Women Physicians," The American Journal of Sociology, LI (Jan. 
1946), pp. 283-87. 

[ 108 ] Men and Their Work 

fraternity of successful men — count upon. Many of the spe- 
cific rules of the game of an occupation become compre- 
hensible only when viewed as the almost instinctive attempts 
of a group of people to cushion themselves against the hazards 
of their careers. The advent of colleague-competitors of some 
new and peculiar type, or by some new route, is likely to 
arouse anxieties. For one thing, one cannot be quite sure 
how "new people" — new in kind — will act in the various 
contingencies which arise to test the solidarity of the group. 5 

How the expectations of which we are thinking become 
embodied in codes may be illustrated by the dilemma of a 
young woman who became a member of that virile profession, 
engineering. The designer of an airplane is expected to go up 
on the maiden flight of the first plane built according to the 
design. He (sic) then gives a dinner to the engineers and 
workmen who worked on the new plane. The dinner is nat- 
urally a stag party. The young woman in question designed 
a plane. Her co-workers urged her not to take the risk — for 
which, presumably, men only are fit — of the maiden voyage. 
They were, in effect, asking her to be a lady rather than an 
engineer. She chose to be an engineer. She then gave the party 
and paid for it like a man. After food and the first round of 
toasts, she left like a lady. 

Part of the working code of a position is discretion; it 
allows the colleagues to exchange confidences concerning their 
relations to other people. Among these confidences one finds 
expressions of cynicism concerning their mission, their com- 
petence, and the foibles of their superiors, themselves, their 
clients, their subordinates, and the public at large. Such ex- 
pressions take the burden from one's shoulders and serve as 
a defense as well. The unspoken mutual confidence necessary 

5. It may be that those whose positions are insecure and whose hopes 
for the higher goals are already fading express more violent hostility to 
"new people." Even if so, it must be remembered that those who are 
secure and successful have the power to exclude or check the careers of 
such people by merely failing to notice them. 


to them rests on two assumptions concerning one's fellows. 
The first is that the colleague will not misunderstand; the 
second is that he will not repeat to uninitiated ears. To be 
sure that a new fellow will not misunderstand requires a 
sparring match of social gestures. The zealot who turns the 
sparring match into a real battle, who takes a friendly initia- 
tion too seriously, is not likely to be trusted with the lighter 
sort of comment on one's work or with doubts and misgivings; 
nor can he learn those parts of the working code which are 
communicated only by hint and gesture. He is not to be 
trusted, for, though he is not fit for stratagems, he is suspected 
of being prone to treason. In order that men may communi- 
cate freely and confidentially, they must be able to take a 
good deal of each other's sentiments for granted. They must 
feel easy about their silences as well as about their utterances. 
These factors conspire to make colleagues, with a large body 
of unspoken understandings, uncomfortable in the presence 
of what they consider odd kinds of fellows. The person who 
is the first of his kind to attain a certain status is often not 
drawn into the informal brotherhood in which experiences are 
exchanged, competence built up, and the formal code elabo- 
rated and enforced. He thus remains forever a marginal man. 
Now it is a necessary consequence of the high degree of 
individual mobility in America that there should be large 
numbers of people of new kinds turning up in various posi- 
tions. In spite of this and in spite of American heterogeneity, 
this remains a white, Anglo-Saxon, male, Protestant culture 
in many respects. These are the expected characteristics for 
many favored statuses and positions. When we speak of racial, 
religious, sex, and ethnic prejudices, we generally assume that 
people with these favored qualities are not the objects thereof. 
In the stereotyped prejudices concerning others, there is 
usually contained the assumption that these other people are 
peculiarly adapted to the particular places which they have 
held up to the present time; it is a corollary implication that 

[ 110 ] Men and Their Work 

they are not quite fit for new positions to which they may 
aspire. In general, advance of a new group — women, Negroes, 
some ethnic groups, etc. — to a new level of positions is not 
accompanied by complete disappearance of such stereotypes 
but only by some modification of them. Thus, in Quebec the 
idea that French-Canadians were good only for unskilled in- 
dustrial work was followed by the notion that they were espe- 
cially good at certain kinds of skilled work but were not fit to 
repair machines or to supervise the work of others. In this 
series of modifications the structure of qualities expected for 
the most-favored positions remains intact. But the forces which 
make for mobility continue to create marginal people on new 

Technical changes also break up configurations of ex- 
pected status characteristics by altering the occupations about 
which they grow up. A new machine or a new managerial 
device — such as the assembly line — may create new positions 
or break old ones up into numbers of new ones. The length 
of training may be changed thereby and, with it, the whole 
traditional method of forming the person to the social demands 
of a colleague-group. Thus, a snip of a girl is trained in a 
few weeks to be a "machinist" on a practically foolproof 
lathe; thereby the old foolproof machinist, who was initiated 
slowly into the skills and attitudes of the trade, is himself 
made a fool of in his own eyes or — worse — in the eyes of 
his wife, who hears that a neighbor's daughter is a machinist 
who makes nearly as much money as he. The new positions 
created by technical changes may, for a time, lack definition 
as a status. Both the technical and the auxiliary qualifications 
may be slow in taking form. The personnel man offers a 
good example. His title is perhaps twenty years old, but the 
expectations concerning his qualities and functions are still 
in flux. 6 

6. The personnel man also illustrates another problem which I do not 
propose to discuss in this paper. It is that of an essential contradiction be- 


Suppose we leave aside the problems which arise from 
technical changes, as such, and devote the rest of this discus- 
sion to the consequences of the appearance of new kinds of 
people in established positions. Every such occurrence pro- 
duces, in some measure, a status contradiction. It may also 
create a status dilemma for the individual concerned and for 
other people who have to deal with him. 

The most striking illustration in our society is offered by 
the Negro who qualifies for one of the traditional professions. 
Membership in the Negro race, as defined in American mores 
and/or law, may be called a master status-determining trait. 
It tends to overpower, in most crucial situations, any other 
characteristics which might run counter to it. But professional 
standing is also a powerful characteristic — most so in the 
specific relationships of professional practice, less so in the 
general intercourse of people. In the person of the profes- 
sionally qualified Negro these two powerful characteristics 
clash. The dilemma, for those whites who meet such a person, 
is that of having to choose whether to treat him as a Negro 
or as a member of his profession. 

The white person in need of professional services, espe- 
cially medical, might allow him to act as doctor in an emer- 
gency. Or it may be allowed that a Negro physician is endowed 
with some uncanny skill. In either case, the white client of 
ordinary American social views would probably avoid any 
nonprofessional contacts with the Negro physician. 7 In fact, 

tween the various functions which are united in one position. The per- 
sonnel man is expected to communicate the mind of the workers to man- 
agement and then to interpret management to the workers. This is a 
difficult assignment. The problem is well stated by William F. Whyte, in 
"Pity the Pefsonnel Man," Advanced Management, October-December, 
1944, pp. 154-58. The Webbs analyzed the similar dilemma of the official 
of a successful trade-union in their History of Trade-Unionism (rev. ed.; 
London: Longmans, Green, 1920), 

7. The Negro artist can be treated as a celebrity. It is within the code 
of social tufthunting that one may entertain, with a kind of affected Bo- 
hemian intimacy, celebrities who, on all counts other than their artistic 
accomplishments, would be beyond the pale. 

[ 112 ] Men and Their Work 

one way of reducing status conflict is to keep the relationship 
formal and specific. This is best done by walking through a 
door into a place designed for the specific relationship, a door 
which can be firmly closed when one leaves. A common scene 
in fiction depicts a lady of degree seeking, veiled and alone, 
the address of the fortuneteller or the midwife of doubtful 
practice in an obscure corner of the city. The anonymity of 
certain sections of cities allows people to seek specialized 
services, legitimate but embarassing as well as illegitimate, 
from persons with whom they would not want to be seen by 
members of their own social circle. 

Some professional situations lend themselves more than 
others to such quarantine. The family physician and the 
pediatrician cannot be so easily isolated as some other special- 
ists. Certain legal services can be sought indirectly by being 
delegated to some queer and unacceptable person by the 
family lawyer. At the other extreme is school teaching, which 
is done in full view of the community and is generally expected 
to be accompanied by an active role in community activities. 
The teacher, unlike the lawyer, is expected to be an example 
to her charges. 

For the white colleagues of the Negro professional man 
the dilemma is even more severe. The colleague-group is 
ideally a brotherhood; to have within it people who cannot, 
given one's other attitudes, be accepted as brothers is very 
uncomfortable. Furthermore, professional men are much 
more sensitive than they like to admit about the company in 
which nonprofessionals see them. The dilemma arises from 
the fact that, while it is bad for the profession to let laymen 
see rifts in their ranks, it may be bad for the individual to 
be associated in the eyes of his actual or potential patients 
with persons, even colleagues, of so despised a group as the 
Negro. The favored way of avoiding the dilemma is to shun 
contacts with the Negro professional. The white physician or 
surgeon of assured reputation may solve the problem by act- 


ing as consultant to Negro colleagues in Negro clinics and 

For the Negro professional man there is also a dilemma. 
If he accepts the role of Negro to the extent of appearing 
content with less than full equality and intimacy with his 
white colleagues, for the sake of such security and advantage 
as can be so got, he himself and others may accuse him of 
sacrificing his race. Given the tendency of whites to say that 
any Negro who rises to a special position is an exception, 
there is a strong temptation for such a Negro to seek advan- 
tage by fostering the idea that he is unlike others of his race. 
The devil who specializes in this temptation is a very insinu- 
ating fellow; he keeps a mailing list of "marginal men" of all 
kinds and origins. Incidentally, one of the by-products of 
American mores is the heavy moral burden which this tempta- 
tion puts upon the host of Americans who have by great ef- 
fort risen from (sic) groups which are the objects of prejudice. 

There may be cases in which the appearance in a position 
of one or a few individuals of a kind not expected there 
immediately dissolves the auxiliary expectations which make 
him appear odd. This is not, however, the usual consequence. 
The expectations usually continue to exist, with modifications 
and with exceptions allowed. 

A common solution is some elaboration of social segrega- 
tion. The woman lawyer may become a lawyer to women 
clients, or she may specialize in some kind of legal service 
in keeping with woman's role as guardian of the home and 
of morals. Women physicians may find a place in those spe- 
cialities of which only women and children have need. A 
female electrical engineer was urged by the dean of the school 
from which she had just been graduated to accept a job whose 
function was to give the "woman's angle" to design of house- 
hold electrical appliances. The Negro professional man finds 
his clients among Negroes. The Negro sociologist generally 
studies race relations and teaches in a Negro college. A new 

[ 114 ] Men and Their Work 

figure on the American scene is the Negro personnel man in 
industries which have started employing Negro workers. His 
functions are to adjust difficulties of Negro workers, settle 
minor clashes between the races, and to interpret manage- 
ment's policies to the Negro as well as to present and ex- 
plain the Negro's point of view to management. It is a 
difficult job. Our interest for the moment, however, is in 
the fact that the Negro, promoted to this position, acts only 
with reference to Negro employees. Many industries have had 
women personnel officials to act with reference to women. 
In one sense, this is an extension of the earlier and still exist- 
ing practice of hiring from among a new ethnic group in 
industry a "straw boss" to look after them. The "straw boss" 
is the liaison officer reduced to lowest terms. 

Another solution, which also results in a kind of isolation 
if not in segregation, is that of putting the new people in the 
library or laboratory, where they get the prestige of research 
people but are out of the way of patients and the public. 
Recently, industries have hired a good many Negro chemists 
to work in their testing and research laboratories. The chemist 
has few contacts with the production organization. Promotion 
within the laboratory will put the Negro in charge of relatively 
few people, and those few will be of his own profession. Such 
positions do not ordinarily lead to the positions of correspond- 
ing importance in the production organization. They offer a 
career line apart from the main streams of promotion to 
power and prestige. 

These solutions reduce the force of status contradiction 
by keeping the new person apart from the most troublesome 
situations. One of the consequences is that it adds new stories 
to the superstructure of segregation. The Negro hospital and 
medical school are the formal side of this. The Negro per- 
sonnel man and foreman show it within the structure of exist- 
ing institutions. There are evidences that physicians of various 
ethnic groups are being drawn into a separate medical system 


of hospitals, clinics, and schools, partly because of the interest 
of the Roman Catholic Church in developing separate institu- 
tions but also partly because of the factors here discussed. It 
is doubtful whether women will develop corresponding sepa- 
rate systems to any great extent. In all of these cases, it looks 
as if the highest point which a member of these odd groups 
may attain is determined largely by the number of people 
of his own group who are in a position to seek his services 
or in a position such that he may be assigned by other au- 
thority to act professionally with reference to them. On the 
other hand, the kind of segregation involved may lead pro- 
fessional people, or others advanced to special positions, to 
seek — as compensation — monopoly over such functions with 
reference to their own group. 

Many questions are raised by the order of things here 
discussed. One is that of the place of these common solutions 
of status conflict in the evolution of the relations between 
the sexes, the races, and the ethnic groups of our society. In 
what circumstances can the person who is accepted formally 
into a new status, and then informally kept within the limits 
of the kind mentioned, step out of these limits and become 
simply a lawyer, foreman, or whatever? Under what circum- 
stances, if ever, is the "hen doctor" simply a doctor? And who 
are the first to accept her as such — her colleagues or her 
patients? Will the growth of a separate superstructure over 
each of the segregated bottom groups of our society tend to 
perpetuate indefinitely the racial and ethnic division already 
existing, or will these superstructures lose their identity in the 
general organization of society? These are the larger questions. 

The purpose of the paper, however, is not to answer these 
large questions. It is rather to call attention to this character- 
istic phenomenon of our heretogeneous and changing society 
and to suggest that it become part of the frame of reference 
of those who are observing special parts of the American 
social structure. 

The Making of a Physician 

Social scientists are being called upon more and more to 
study training for the various professions and to consult with 
those who make policy with reference to it. The following 
pages suggest a general frame of reference for such study. 
They were written for several people, both medical educators 
and social scientists, who were thinking of embarking on a 
modest study tracing the course of students through the maze 
of a particular medical school. There resulted a day-long 
discussion which was of great value in planning the study. 
It was more like a prolonged group interview than a formal 
discussion. While the ideas refer specifically to medicine, they 
implicitly refer to other professions as well. 

The Medical Culture 

Each of the great historic professions is concerned with 
not just a set of techniques for doing some useful work, but 
with some aspect of life and/or society, itself. And when, as 
often happens, an occupation — either an old one transformed 
by technical or social changes, or a new one — claims for itself 
the status of profession, it is saying to the world that — like 

Human Organization. Vol. 14 (Winter, 1955), pp. 21-25. Reprinted 
with permission. 



the professions — the work it does has somehow become a mat- 
ter of broad public concern. 

Medicine is the prototype of the professions in this regard. 
As Sigerist so well demonstrates in the first chapter of his 
work, 1 a history of medicine is a history of human society 
and culture, of its metaphysics as well as of its physics, of 
its basic philosophy of nature, of its ideas of health and dis- 
ease, of the processes of therapy (faith, magic, science, and 
arts), and its notions about the proper economy and distribu- 
tion of goods and services, including healing services and 

These ideas, the health and illness aspect of a culture, are 
never the sole possession and certainly never the exclusive 
creation of those who devote themselves to the healing arts. 
On the other hand, the medical culture of the dominant heal- 
ing profession (or professions, for they are not so united in all 
as in our own culture) never coincides exactly with that of 
the lay world. The relations between professional medical 
culture and lay medical culture have varied a great deal; in 
our part of the world, most of the population accepts the 
basic assumptions of the former. This is still not so in many 
parts of the world; and where it is not, the medical profession 
faces special problems. But even in our world the lay public, 
or parts of it in varying degree, does not accept all the assump- 
tions, nor the therapeutic and preventive measures based upon 
them. Furthermore, the accumulation of medical knowledge 
and art has become so great that those without special training 
are, perhaps, relatively further from the professional in rele- 
vant knowledge and skill than in earlier periods. In a sense, 
we are more dependent upon the professionals for medical 
services than were our ancestors. By the same token, only 
some small portion of medical knowledge and skill can be 
mastered by each member of the profession itself, which leads 

1. Henry E. Sigerist, A History of Medicine, Vol. 1, Primitive and 
Archaic Medicine, New York, 1951, "Introduction," pp. 3-101. 

[ 118 ] Men and Their Work 

to there being subcultures within the greater professional 
medical culture. This is also more than a matter of technique 
and knowledge; it has roots in ideas and assumptions. One 
can, with some truth, speak of the medical philosophy, per- 
haps even of the moral, social, or economic philosophy of 
the various specialties; one can at least speak of differences of 
emphasis among them. Some of the specialties may even be 
said to have their own lay publics — people who accept their 
basic philosophy and who favor their approach to diagnosis 
and treatment rather than others. 

Medical culture goes far beyond these approaches. For 
one thing, an approach to health may carry implications about 
the relations of physicians to each other, about the degrees 
of cooperation necessary and/or desirable among them. For 
another, from the very nature of their work, physicians can- 
not refrain from having opinions about the relations of physi- 
cians to patients, to the public, and to the many other 
occupations, enterprises and institutions involved in health 
activities. Professionals and laymen might accept the same 
assumptions about the nature of disease and its treatment, 
yet differ strongly on the proper relations of the various 
parties involved. Indeed, among both laity and the profession 
there are differences on many of these points which may or 
may not be related to specialties, differences in social, ethnic, 
or regional background and so on. 

However these things may be, it is beyond dispute that 
there is an immense and elaborate medical culture in our 
world, and that the knowledge and attitudes that make it up 
are distributed in various ways among laity and the medical 
profession and related occupations. 

Medical Education 

Medical education is the whole series of processes by 
which the medical culture is kept alive (which means more 
than merely imparted) through time and generations, by 


which it is extended to new populations or elements of the 
population, and by which it is added to through new learn- 
ing and experiment. The education of the medical profes- 
sion is part of it. For our immediate purposes we will use 
the phrase medical education only for the training and ini- 
tiation of physicians, although there is a certain danger of 
distortion in using it in so limited a way. The education of 
the members of the medical profession is a set of planned 
and unplanned experiences by which laymen, usually young 
and acquainted with the prevailing lay medical culture, be- 
come possessed of some part of the technical and scientific 
medical culture of the professionals. The starting point is 
the lay medical culture; the end point varies, although the 
learning experiences are somewhat standardized and although 
all must take standard examinations to be licensed. But 
the end point is not there, for in varying ways and degrees 
the professionals must bring what they have learned into 
effective interaction with the lay medical culture again. But 
with a difference — for they themselves are in a new role. 

Part of the medical culture of the lay world is some set 
of conceptions about the proper role of the physician and a 
set of beliefs about the extent to which he lives up to the 
role so conceived, and the extent to which and the ways in 
which he falls short. Initiation into a new role is as much a 
part of medical training as is the learning of techniques; 
indeed, part of it is to learn the techniques of playing the 
role well. A role is always a part in some system of inter- 
action of human beings; it is always played opposite other 
roles. To play one is not to play another. One might say 
that the learning of the medical role consists of a separation, 
almost an alienation, of the student from the lay medical 
world; a passing through the mirror so that one looks out 
on the world from behind it, and sees things as in mirror 
writing. In all of the more esoteric occupations we have 
studied we find the sense of seeing the world in reverse. 

[ 120 ] Men and Their Work 

The period of initiation into the role appears to be one 
wherein the two cultures, lay and professional, interact within 
the individual. Such interaction undoubtedly goes on all 
through life, but it seems to be more lively — more exciting 
and uncomfortable, more self-conscious and yet perhaps more 
deeply unconscious — in the period of learning and initia- 
tion. To take one example, the layman has to learn to live 
with the uncertainty if not of ignorance, at least of lack of 
technical knowledge of his own illnesses; the physician has 
to live with and act in spite of the more closely calculated 
uncertainty that comes with knowing the limits of medical 
knowledge and his own skill. 

In the process of change from one role to another there 
are occasions when other people expect one to play the new 
role before one feels completely identified with it or com- 
petent to carry it out; there are others in which one over- 
identifies oneself with the role, but is not accepted in it by 
others. These and other possible positions between roles make 
of an individual what is called a marginal man; either he 
or other people or both do not quite know to what role 
(identity, reference group) to refer him. We need studies 
which will discover the course of passage from the laymen's 
estate to that of the professional, with attention to the crises 
and the dilemmas of role which arise. 

Stereotype and reality. — We assume that anyone embark- 
ing upon the road to medicine has some set of ideas about 
what the work (skills and tasks) of the physician is, about 
what the role is, what the various medical careers are, and 
about himself as a person who may learn the skills, play 
the role, and follow one of the possible career-lines. We as- 
sume also that except in cases of extraordinary early con- 
tact with the profession, the medical aspirant's conceptions 
of all these things are somewhat simpler than the reality, that 
they may be somewhat distorted and stereotyped as among 
lay people. Medical education becomes, then, the learning 


of the more complicated reality on all these fronts. It may 
turn out that it makes a good deal of difference whether 
the steps toward a more penetrating and sophisticated real- 
ity on one of these points come early or late, and whether 
the reality is learned from supporting teachers and colleagues 
or rubbed in by punishing cynics or stubborn and uncom- 
prehending patients. It may be that the more complicated 
reality is in some circumstances traumatic, in others, excit- 
ing and even inspiring. Perhaps some aspects of reality can 
be learned in an early phase of technical training and experi- 
ence, while others can be effectively learned only at some 
later point. There has always been considerable talk in edu- 
cational institutions about what kinds of things are prerequi- 
sites for others; only in a few cases does it appear really to 
be known what should come first, what later — there are 
those who say that geometry should come before algebra, not 
after. Some question the time-honored custom of having stu- 
dents learn anatomy from cadavers rather than from demon- 
strations with living persons. In the study of professional 
education, we have suggested a distinction between various 
kinds of prerequisites: conventional and symbolic, technical 
and role-learning. Learning the realities of medical skills, 
roles and careers may move pari passu; or it may be that 
some of the roles can be really learned only when a certain 
level of skill has been attained and certain career corners 
turned. The realities about career problems might at some 
points put a damper on the student's eagerness to learn skills 
and roles; at another point, a new knowledge of career 
realities might be a stimulus to work on the other fronts. 

In professional, as in other lines of work, there grows 
up both inside and outside some conception of what the 
essential work of the occupation is or should be. In any 
occupation, people perform a variety of tasks, some of them 
approaching more closely the ideal or symbolic work of the 
profession than others. Some tasks are considered nuisances 

[ 122 ] Men and Their Work 

and impositions, or even dirty work — physically, socially 
or morally beneath the dignity of the profession. Part of 
what goes on with respect to a major aspect of life at whose 
center is a profession, such as the medical, is a constant 
sorting and resorting of the tasks involved among many kinds 
of people — inside the profession, in related professions, and 
clear outside professional ranks. The preparation of drugs, 
the taking of blood pressures, the giving of anaesthetics, the 
keeping of medical records, the collection of bills, the clean- 
ing up of operating rooms, the administration of hospitals — 
these are but a few of the tasks which have been allocated 
and reallocated within the medical division of labor in fairly 
recent years. There is constant discussion of what is whose 
work in medicine and what part of it all is the physician's 
work, privilege and duty. We assume that the medical stu- 
dent is inducted into the discussion of these problems, and 
that it has some effect upon his motivation and his sense of 
mission. We may suppose that the essential, symbolically- 
valued part of the physician's work is diagnosis and treatment 
of the ailments of people, and that the other activities are — 
in theory at least — tolerated only as they appear necessary 
to it. What, then, are considered essential auxiliary or periph- 
eral activities, and what attitudes do physicians hold toward 
them and the people who perform them? Hospitals must be 
administered, and there are some who believe that physi- 
cians alone should do it. Yet, physicians do not ordinarily 
gain great prestige by becoming administrators — indeed, some 
who are say they are scarcely considered medical colleagues 
any longer. On the other hand, there is some tendency for 
auxiliary activities to become valued ends in themselves, 
sometimes even getting in the way of the presumed basic 
activity (as discipline becomes an end in itself in schools 
and, some say, in nursing). 

The increasing variety of the central and, symbolically, 
most valued of medical activities themselves is reflected in 


the number of medical specialties. Some of the specialties are 
rated above others both by laymen and the profession, al- 
though these ratings are not necessarily the same. We may 
assume that as the student learns various skills and sees at 
closer hand the actual tasks of his future trade, he will un- 
dergo changes of attitude toward them as components of 
medical work. 

Just as certain tasks and skills of medical work are rated 
above others, so also are the men who perform them. But 
we must remember that the various medical tasks differ from 
each other not merely in the knowledge and technical skill 
required, but in the social relations and social roles involved. 
The model member of the profession is a man of certain 
skills and knowledge, one who keeps proper balance between 
the more and the less valued activities of the profession, and 
who plays his role well in relation to himself, his colleagues, 
other personnel in medical work, and toward his patients 
and the public. As in other professions, we may find that 
some models are — like the saints — considered a little too 
good for ordinary men to be expected to imitate in daily 
practice, although they are admired as embodiments of the 
highest values of the profession. A study of medical edu- 
cation should discover not merely the saintly models, but 
also those the student regards as more practically (even a 
bit cynically) attainable by himself, the mold being as it is, 
and he being who he is. The shift in choice of models by the 
student, his definite steps or his drifting into the path that 
leads to one model rather than others, is a significant part 
of his medical education. This is, of course, not merely 
choice of specialty, but of various ways of practicing medi- 
cine: practice, teaching, research; practice in one social en- 
vironment rather than another: rural or urban, well-off or 
poor, where the health standard of living is high or is low, 
among his own or among other kinds of people; alone or in 
association with others; for salary or for fees; where com- 

[ 124 ] Men and Their Work 

petition is keen or where there is more security, etc. These 
matters may all enter as components into models to be ad- 
mired or followed, which is to say that, as suggested above, 
a model in effect embodies the whole professional ideology 
of those who choose it. 

The models of the medical world are, of course, not free 
of influence from the ideologies of other aspects of modern 
life. We should investigate the extent to which the image 
of the model businessman has colored that of the model 
physician. Although the world of business uses the term pri- 
vate entrepreneur there is plenty of evidence that the model 
businessman is seen as a team worker rather than a person 
who goes it alone. It is possible that in some respects the 
medical model is a hangover from the outmoded one of the 
business world. Given current trends in medical organiza- 
tion, it seems obviously important to discover not merely 
the extent to which the go-it-alone model prevails as against 
the team-work model, but also to find out what influences 
continue to reinforce it. 

The conception of the model physician contains, by im- 
plication, clues to the nature of the model patient. There 
may be a good deal of ambivalence on this point, since few 
students are so unrealistic as to believe they can get a practice 
consisting of only one kind of patient (as to troubles, per- 
sonal, social, or economic characteristics), or so divinely 
endowed and blissfully ambitious that they can in fact get 
such a clientele. It is recognized, too, that all people must 
be served in some fashion. Yet there are conceptions of the 
ideal patient: about what is wrong with him, about his social 
and economic characteristics, about his acceptance of the 
physician's authority and prescriptions, his understanding, 
his co-operation and his gratitude. There are apparently at 
least three important components in these conceptions: the 
nature of the illness and its amenability to treatment; the 
nature of the interaction between the patient in his role with 


the physician in his; and, finally, the effect of the patient 
on the physician's career (income, reputation, development 
of further skill, fulfillment of his self -concept as a physician). 

We have said little directly about the nature of social 
roles, and will make only a few remarks on the subject since, 
by implication, the problem of role is found throughout. In 
one sense, a role is what a man expects of himself and what 
others expect of him in certain situations. People sometimes 
expect miracles of physicians; the physician has to learn 
how to handle this expectation in such a way as to give his 
patients both the best chance of getting well and the least 
chance of disillusionment. This is the eternal problem of help- 
ing people to face uncertainty, or unwelcome certainty (as 
the case may be) , the problem of maintaining balance in the 
relations between the more skilled partner (the physician) 
and the less skilled, but more crucially- affected partner (the 
patient) . Man of understanding, man of patience, confidante, 
advisor, pillar of strength — and their opposites — these are 
terms having to do with roles, rather than with techniques 
as such. 

They all involve other people, or oneself considered in 
one's relations to other people. Everyone has to work out 
the weights he will give to the various parties to the work 
drama in which he has a role. Will he play it for the pa- 
tients alone, dramatizing himself as their champion against 
the profession itself? Taken to the extreme, this is quackery 
in a strict sociological sense, whether or not the man be com- 
petent in his methods of diagnosis and practice. There are 
people who play their roles before their colleagues alone, 
or before some of their colleagues rather than others; still 
others may be moved by peculiar conceptions of their own 
rights and duties, impervious alike to colleague and patient. 
These may be the true missionaries, the sectarians who have 
no judge except God himself. Every man finds his "signifi- 
cant others," with whom he identifies himself so that he 

[ 126 ] Men and Their Work 

listens to their voices rather than to others. This is what is 
meant by the recently-adopted term, "reference group." Since 
there are a number of crucial reference groups in modern 
medicine, it becomes part of the problem of the student to 
find some balance between his sensitivity to them, his own 
configuration of significant others. Different configurations 
may be associated with selection of the specialties and the 
ways of practicing mentioned above. 

It is also likely that as he goes through his medical edu- 
cation, the aspirant will veer from one toward another of 
his significant others; at one time feeling the aches and pains 
of the patient more acutely than the patients themselves; at 
another sharing the angry cynicism of those colleagues who 
say, in their hour of disillusion with ungrateful humanity, 
that the only thing to do is get yours while you can; at 
another, feeling the exhilaration of wonder-working, and 
yielding a bit to the blandishments of admiring nurses, stu- 
dents, and grateful patients; and at still another, suffering 
the pangs of uncertainty of his trade and feeling sorry for 

This leads to the problem of self-conception and discovery 
of self. A person's conception of himself is itself something 
of a stereotype, to which parents, teachers, siblings, peers, 
and his own dreams have contributed. Some people project 
themselves far into the future, others operate more or less in 
the present. But in either case, there come moments of nec- 
essary revision and adjustment of one's notions about what 
he can do and wants to do. One may say, then, that a young 
man thinking about himself as a physician is thinking about 
a young man as yet somewhat unknown to himself, doing 
work and playing roles not yet known, in situations he has 
never yet been in. This is not to underestimate the anticipa- 
tory playing of roles; but no matter how sensitive the indi- 
vidual's anticipation of himself in a future role, there is some 
gap between anticipation and realization. Certainly, there 


are more young men in premedical school who think of them- 
selves as potential surgeons than can ever be surgeons, given 
the qualities necessary and the proportion of the medical 
profession who make their living as such. There are also 
fewer who expect to end up in public health than actually 
will. As he proceeds through medical training and into prac- 
tice, the young man may be expected to get not merely a 
better notion of the skills required, of the tasks to be per- 
formed, of the roles to be played, and of the positions to be 
attained in the medical world and the roads which lead to- 
ward them, but also to adjust his conception of his own 
mental, physical and personal aptitudes, his tastes and dis- 
tastes, and of the chances that a person of his particular social 
and economic qualities and family circumstances may acquire 
the skills, the roles and the positions available. 

This is an economics of self-conception. The importance 
of this to the distribution of physicians among specialties and 
ways of practicing is obvious. Again we have to deal with 
the problems of fateful or crucial choice. A person may make 
a discovery about himself only after he has passed the point 
of crucial decision to do the kind of work he would now 
like to have been able to do. In the concrete, this means 
that one cannot enter medicine at all unless one has had 
certain schooling by a certain age; that some specialties 
have to be adopted far earlier than others; that some require 
a longer period of doing without income; that a wife who 
is a handicap in one kind of practice might be a great asset 
in another; that, while one can master the skills of a certain 
specialty, one has no taste or aptness for the social roles 
required. A study of the progressive self-discovery of students 
passing through the maze of medical school and training 
might be used by those who plan the experiences which have 
a bearing on the choice of effective models, of specialties, 
and of the ways and places of practice by medical students. 

Career. One of the problems in the study of a profession 

[ 128 ] Men and Their Work 

is to discover the career-lines of people who follow it. This 
in turn requires identification of the significant phases of 
careers, and the sequences in which they occur. Sequences 
occur in all the matters we have discussed thus far. Some of 
them are institutionalized — as the sequence from premedical 
phase, to medical student, to intern, resident, practicing physi- 
cian, diplomate of a specialty body, etc. Others are not so 
formally institutionalized and named, but are well known. 
Still others are more or less unnoticed or not admitted (but 
nevertheless often anticipated or feared) regularities of change 
from one ill-defined phase to another. One changes from a 
young man with teachers and mentors to whom he may 
turn, into an older man who has become a teacher and a 
sponsor, even a father-figure to younger men. Or one finds 
that one has less time for the clinic and the laboratory be- 
cause of the increase of administrative demands upon one's 
time. One aspect of career is just these shifts from one weight- 
ing or combination of activities to another. It is well known 
that these shifts are accompanied by anxieties, such as shown 
in the dream of a young woman who had just been made 
a supervisor of nursing in a large hospital. She dreamed 
that she suddenly had to get a patient into a respirator at 
night, and that she had either forgotten how, or else a new 
model had been brought in — and she fumbled while the pa- 
tient gasped. The shift from one kind of activity to another 
entails the danger of losing a skill; it is also a shift from 
one kind of responsibility to another, from one role to another. 
There are, in any kind of career line, points of negative 
and positive crucial decision. For example, if I have not re- 
ceived my specialty residence in a certain kind of hospital 
by a certain age, certain further steps are closed. There is 
also always before a young man the question whether, when, 
and how often to move from one place of work to another. 
Some lines of work, and some specialties within medicine, 
show different patterns of relation between moving and sue- 


cess. One would expect that the career of a man going into 
private practice might be more crucially affected by his first 
choice of a place to practice than is the career of a man who 
goes in for pathology, teaching, or any of the specialties in 
which work for salary is the rule. There is, in institutions or 
systems, a certain balance between home-guard success and 
itinerant success. The home-guard are the people who make 
their careers with little or no itineracy; the itinerants progress 
by moving from one place or institution to another. Those 
who get ahead by moving — from say, smaller to larger schools 
or hospitals — have to decide whether to move in a small 
orbit (state or region) or in a large, perhaps national or in- 
ternational, orbit. The decision, or the fact — whether it be 
by conscious decision or by default — of operating in a small 
or in a large orbit involves the choice of significant others 
(reference groups), the people on whose good opinion one 
stakes one's reputation; those whom one can afford to pay 
less attention to; and those, perhaps, from whom one must 
dissociate oneself. It involves, in short, the choice of his 
closer colleagues, the people who will refer cases to him, 
the people who will think of him when they want a team- 
mate, the people who see his potentialities and help him to 
realize them. 

Career is, in fact, a sort of running adjustment between 
a man and the various facts of life and of his professional 
world. It involves the running of risks, for his career is his 
ultimate enterprise, his laying of his bets on his one and 
only life. It contains a set of projections of himself into the 
future, and a set of predictions about the course of events 
in the medical world itself. Much is to be learned about 
career lines, how they are conceived by the students of 
medicine and how their personal and social backgrounds, 
school and other training experiences, predispose or turn 
them in one or another of the many directions in which a 
medical man may go. It is the sum total of these dispositions 

[ 130 ] Men and Their Work 

and turnings that gives us the kind of distribution of physi- 
cians we have among the various ways of practicing and 
the various places and settings within which medicine is prac- 
ticed, whether that distribution be good or poor. 

We are in a time of great change in the institutions of 
medicine. Not only is their inner structure changing so that 
the available positions and careers and the demands, made 
upon those who fill them are in flux both in number and 
kind, but there are more and more ancillary institutions, 
more and more connections of medicine with the other con- 
cerns and institutions of the world. The younger physician's 
projection of himself into the future is consequently a projec- 
tion with more unknowns in it than ever before. The whole 
trend of the system itself is something of an unknown. So 
that the problem becomes in part that of adjusting to run- 
ning, never-completed adjustment. Some will doubtless ac- 
cept the implications of such open-endedness more than others; 
some may indeed make it part of their identity to be men 
who do not seek a fixed identity, men whose constant is 
that they are open to change, or even men who seek the 
spots where change is the major assignment. Others may 
seek, successfully or not, the spots which appear most fixed, 
the bastions that appear safe from storming. We may find a 
home-guard of time, as well as of space. 

We need studies which will run these various lines of 
inquiry concurrently, starting in the premedical phase and 
following the aspirant through into his early years of prac- 
tice. That is, studies which take him from the time when 
he is most nearly like a layman in his medical culture, through 
the full cycle of whatever happens to him in school, to that 
time in the early years of practice when he is fully a member 
of the profession, both in his own mind and in that of most 
people who know him. 


Professions in Transition 

The occupations historically known as professions are un- 
dergoing great changes in the organization of their work. 
Medicine, in response to changes in both medical technology 
and philosophy, has been broken up into many specialties. 
There has also been a phenomenal increase in the equip- 
ment used in diagnosis and treatment of patients. One result 
has been concentration of the bulky and expensive equipment, 
of the physicians themselves, and of many other kinds of 
help into great clinics and hospitals. The patients now come 
to the equipment and the physician. This, in turn, has brought 
drastic changes in the physician's relations to his colleagues, 
his patients, and also makes it necessary for him to deal with 
many new kinds of medical workers; the contingencies of 
his career are now, in large part, those of his relations to 

The client of the lawyer is more and more often an or- 
ganization — a limited liability company, an association, a 
government bureau; less often an individual. To serve rich and 
huge corporate clients lawyers have been gathered into large 

This chapter is based somewhat on "Discussion of the Bryan Report," 
in Asheim, Lester (ed.)> A Forum on the Public Library Inquiry (New 
York, 1950), pp. 106-14. 


[ 132 ] Men and Their Work 

firms where each man can specialize in some line of law. The 
lawyer who practices alone in a large American city is, indeed, 
a lawyer in name only; he does little of the legal reasoning 
and of the skillful arguing which are considered true law 
work. The young lawyer goes, more and more often, directly 
from law school to a firm which pays him a salary; he has a 
single employer instead of many clients. 

The professions, although they are prospering under these 
changes, are made uneasy by them. For in these historic pro- 
fessions — the free professions, as they are called in German — 
the individual practitioner is supposed to stand in a fiduciary 
relation which he must scrupulously keep clean of interests 
which arise out of his relation to other clients. The current 
trends appear to endanger this supposedly simple relation of 
professional with client. Oddly enough, however, just at this 
moment of transition in the organization of their practice, 
the professions apparently enjoy a prestige greater than ever 
before. Furthermore, it is a time of trend toward profession- 
alism, according to the most important article of recent years 
on the place of professions in society, "The Recent History 
of Professionalism in Relation to Social Structure and Social 
Policy," by T. H. Marshall. 1 He refers to the fact that a good 
many services formerly carried out in an informal way by 
amateurs are now performed by specialists who work in large 
private or public organizations. They require people of high 
literary and technical training, and whose quality of effort 
can be trusted. For while, says Marshall, caveat emptor may 
make some sense when one buys goods which he can see in 
advance, it is utter nonsense in relation to services which one 
can never see in advance. A. M. Carr-Saunders and P. A. 
Wilson, 2 writing of the same trend, have shown the steps which 

1. T. H. Marshall, "The Recent History of Professionalism in Rela- 
tion to Social Structure and Social Policy," The Canadian Journal of Eco- 
nomics and Political Science, V (August, 1939), pp. 325-34. 

2. A. M. Carr-Saunders and P. A. Wilson, The Professions (Oxford, 


an occupation goes through in trying to establish itself as a 

And this is the second sense in which this is a time of 
professions in transition: The practitioners of many occupa- 
tions — some new, some old — are self-consciously attempting 
to achieve recognition as professionals. Among them are 
librarians, social workers, and nurses. As long as there have 
been libraries, there have been people who kept them, but 
the librarian that we now know is a product of the prolifer- 
ation of public and other libraries which seek to circulate 
rather than merely to hoard books. The sick apparently have 
always been nursed, but nursing as we know it is something 
still taking form in the modern hospital and public health 
agency; Florence Nightingale is already obsolete, except as 
a symbolic founding mother. Assistance and counsel have 
always been given to those in trouble, but social work, too, 
is a newcomer and a striver among the professions. All these 
occupations, in their present form, result from new technical 
development, social movements and/or new social institutions. 
The old service or function, formerly performed by amateurs 
or for pay by people of little or no formal training, comes to 
be the lifework of a large and increasing number of people. 
Its basic techniques are changed. Most of the new professions, 
or would-be professions, are practised only in connection 
with an institution. Their story is thus that of the founding, 
proliferation or transformation of some category of institu- 
tions: schools, social agencies, hospitals, libraries, and many 
others. Whether the institution be new or whether it be an 
old one transformed, there is likely to be a struggle of the 
new profession with the other occupations involved (if there 
are any), and with the laymen who have some voice in the 
institution — a struggle for definition of the part of each in 
the functioning of the institution. 

At first, the people who are recruited to the occupation 
come, of necessity, from other occupations. If they are women, 

[ 134 ] Men and Their Work 

many of them may have had no previous gainful occupation. 
They will be of various social backgrounds, ages, and kinds 
of education. Some are more amateur than professional. In 
time, the question of training arises. The first people to take 
formal training, when schools for the purpose are established, 
are likely to be people already at work in the occupation. As 
time goes on, the occupation and its training schools become 
better known, and young people are recruited at the same 
age as for other schools. The training school itself generally 
starts as a vocational school, without college or university 
connections and with terms of study that do not correspond 
to the academic calendar. The early teachers are enthusiastic 
leaders of a movement, or protagonists of some new technique 
(such as case work), who have little conventional academic 
training and who find their colleagues in the new movement 
rather than in the academic world. They, or some leader 
among them, institute a curriculum which is likely to persist 
for some time and to be thought so sacred that to propose to 
alter it drastically is considered heretical. 

In time, the training schools may seek and gain connec- 
tion with universities, some of which compete for students 
and for the prestige and money accorded the new profession. 
At this point, there may be a new wave of later seekers of 
special training; as in nursing, where a whole generation of 
leaders sought academic degrees some years after having 
completed their nonacademic professional training. 

The development continues in the direction of standard 
terms of study, academic degrees, eventually higher degrees, 
research in some field or fields considered proper to the pro- 
fession and the institution in which it operates, and a con- 
tinuing corps of people who teach rather than practice the 
profession directly. At the same time, prerequisites to the 
professional training will be multiplied, with the result — 
intended or not — of requiring candidates for the occupation 
to decide earlier to enter training, and to make a "firm com- 


mitment." By increasing the length of the training, the time 
and social cost of leaving training, once it is started, becomes 
greater. The standardized schooling and training become, 
in the successful case, effectively the licence to work at the 

These developments inevitably bring a campaign to sep- 
arate the sheep from the goats, to set up categories of truly 
professional and of less-than-professional people. This takes 
time, because many people in the occupation do not have 
the full new training, and because those who have power of 
appointment to places do not fully accept the occupational 
group's right to say who can be hired for the work. The pro- 
fessional group will go through a process of self-consciously 
studying its work and deciding what functions are really pro- 
fessional and what can be delegated to nonprofessional or 
less-than-professional people. Nurses are delegating much of 
their former work to practical nurses, aides, and maids, while 
continually taking on new duties assigned to them by phy- 
sicians and the administrators of hospitals. The librarians 
are in a campaign to rid themselves of purely clerical work, 
so that they may follow their true work, that of advising 
people about what to read. So far as this sorting out of func- 
tions is successful, it has a double effect. Some functions are 
down-graded: bed-making and housekeeping for nurses; the 
dusting, handling, chasing, cataloguing, date-stamping of 
books for librarians; "means test" interviewing for social 
workers. The people who do them are also down-graded, or 
else a new category of non-professional or less-than-profes- 
sional people is introduced into the system to perform these 
infra dignitate tasks. This development has been especially 
marked in nursing, aided by a shortage of help in hospitals. 
It is just now being talked of in teaching, where it is proposed 
that there should be master teachers who do naught but teach, 
while others counsel pupils, correct papers, and keep discipline. 

Even among those who qualify as fully professional, some 

[ 136 ] Men and Their Work 

will be swept more completely than others into the main 
stream of change and professionalization. Some will have 
drifted into the occupation, and will not want to leave home 
to take new jobs. Others, more fully committed and more 
alert to the new developments will move from place to place 
seeking ever more interesting, prestigeful and perhaps, more 
profitable positions. The latter become itinerants, interchange- 
able parts in the larger system of things, at home in any given 
place not because of personal attachments, but because of 
the work to be done and the conditions of doing it. Those 
who stay longer in one place, whether because they have no 
opportunity to move, or because they have attachments, build 
even more attachments, becoming less movable and perhaps 
more resistant to the itinerants and the changes the latter 
propose and promote. The two styles of careers, the home- 
guard and the itinerant, may show up as a chronic tension 
in the institutions in which the professionals work, the itiner- 
ants as a rule fancying themselves as the more professional, 
the home-guard perhaps thinking of themselves as having the 
interests of the home community or institution at heart and 
fearing that the itinerants may try to relegate them to the 
limbo of the less-than-professional. 

At this point problems of morale and career develop. 
Shall the people who start in the nonprofessional or less-than- 
professional auxiliary occupations be kept there, or shall the 
door be kept ajar for them to get further training and become 
professionals? This may be an important point of policy for 
a profession and for institutions faced with recruiting prob- 
lems. If the decision whether to enter one of the less-than-pro- 
fessional auxiliary trades or the profession itself must be made 
earlier and irrevocably it can affect both the number and the 
quality of recruits as well as the relations between the profes- 
sionals and others at work. It is also likely that if the decision 
to enter the profession must be made earlier, the number of 
people who enter for security's sake may increase, while the 


number of enthusiastic mavericks — so numerous among the 
founders — will be reduced. This may be happening both in 
teaching and in nursing, although there are a few experiments 
being made in the recruiting of bright and well-educated 

From all of this there flows the question common to all 
new professions and by no means uncommon among older 
ones: for what are the people being trained, anyway? A 
recent study of librarians gives the impression that the most 
successful librarian is no longer a librarian, but an adminis- 
trator {she becomes a he in the course of it in many cases). 
This in varying degree is also true of nurses, social workers, 
and engineers. It has become an acute problem in a number 
of occupations, although not quite yet in universities, for 
professors still look down their noses at deans and department 
chairmen, except when they want some dirty work done, or 
need money. In a considerable number of professions the 
basic techniques and intellectual skills are becoming something 
one learns as a condition of getting on the ladder of mobility. 
The engineer who, at forty, can still use a slide rule or logar- 
ithmic table, and make a true drawing, is a failure. Hence 
the old remark of condescension mingled with respect: "The 
old man has forgotten more than you will ever know." It 
might be that the advanced library schools are merely insti- 
tutions where people get themselves groomed to stop being 
librarians and become administrators, just as graduate depart- 
ments of education are said to serve the purpose of moving 
people from the little circuits to the big tent circuit in school 
administration. If the line of promotion in a profession is in 
the direction of administration, what should the professional 
training be? And if the professional school becomes a grad- 
uate school culminating in a Ph.D. — for which a piece of 
"research" is required — must one not ask whether this is 
either the best way to get research done or the best way to 
train administrators? A piece of research done as part of 

[ 138 ] Men and Their Work 

training for promotion to a position where one will no longer 
have to do research may probably have some of the faults 
of a diagnosis done with an eye on what diagnostic procedures 
the patient can pay for. But we are now talking of problems 
which may arise in any profession, new or old, when the 
practice of it becomes involved in complicated institutional 
settings. The new professions, being so involved from the 
beginning, may give us some of our best clues for analyzing 
the problems of the old. 


Science and/or Profession 

Let me set before you three occupational models: a 
science, a business, and a profession. Each of these, in the 
purest case, shows a system of social interaction different 
from the others in crucial respects. There are other models, 
but these appear the most useful ones to those who are 
discussing the institutional aspect of the occupation of 

Scientists, in the purest case, do not have clients. They 
discover, systematize, and communicate knowledge about 
some order of phenomena. They may be guided by a faith 
that society at large and in the long run will benefit from 
continued increase of knowledge about nature; but the vari- 
ous actions of the scientist, qua scientist, are undertaken be- 
cause they add to knowledge, not because of any immediate 
benefit to any individual or group which may be considered 
his client. The test of the scientists' work lies in convincing 
communication of it to colleagues, communication so full and 

The American Psychologist. Vol. 7 (August, 1952), pp. 441-43. Re- 
printed with permission. The discussion was written at the request of a 
committee of the American Psychological Association, appointed to con- 
sider a code of ethics for psychologists. 


[ 140 ] Men and Their Work 

so precise that any of them can undertake to test the validity 
of claimed findings by following the same procedures. Scien- 
tists chafe under secrecy. If laymen do not receive full report 
of work done, it is simply because they are not sophisticated 
enough to understand the report. The great point in the 
scientist's code is full and honest reporting to his colleagues, 
and, with it, willingness to submit to full criticism. Since this 
is so, and since no client is involved, scientists ordinarily do 
not seek the protection of state licence. Informal controls are 

The second model is that of a business. In purest form, 
business goes on among traders. Since the customer is also 
a trader, he is presumed to be as sophisticated about the 
object traded in as is the seller. The trading is a game. The 
principle of caveat emptor can apply without injury to any- 
one. As in all games, however, there are rules designed to 
allow the game to continue. There is no sense letting anyone 
in who lacks the resources to make good his deals, or the 
skill to keep the game going. Hence, stock exchanges have 
limited memberships. But the state and the public are not 
especially considered in making the rules of entrance to the 
game and the rules of play. 

Not all business is of this pure form, for goods are eventu- 
ally sold to an amateur, a consumer. The consumer may 
know what he likes, but he is not expected to be as good a 
judge of what he buys as is the man who sold it to him. He 
expects some little protection from unscrupulous sellers who 
would impose upon his ignorance. Caveat emptor tends to be 
limited, but not completely — witness the tongue-in-cheek 
"pitch" of advertising. The customer often, in moments of 
annoyance, initiates action to license sellers or to otherwise 
protect the customers from them. I introduce this model merely 
to high-light the third, that of a profession. 

The people in a profession make their living by giving 
an esoteric service. Nowadays it is commonly said that the 

psychology: science and/or profession [ 141 ] 

service is based upon a science or, as in the case of engineer- 
ing and medicine, a number of sciences. The essence of the 
matter appears, however, to be that the client is not in a posi- 
tion to judge for himself the quality of the service he receives. 
He comes to the professional because he has met a problem 
which he cannot himself handle. It may be a matter of life 
or death for himself or a loved one; of gaining or losing a 
family farm, or one's freedom and reputation; of having one's 
dream of a house turn into wonderful reality or a white 
elephant. He has some idea of the result he wants; little, of 
the means or even of the possibility of attaining it. Indeed, 
he may want an impossible result, and be bitterly resentful 
of the professional man's judgment that it is impossible. But 
the time comes when the physician cannot prolong a life. 
All patients are lost in the long run. Half of all cases contested 
at law are lost; there is a losing side. All professions fail in 
some measure to achieve what their clients want, or think 
they want, of them. Furthermore, members — even the best — 
of all professions make mistakes of judgment and of tech- 
nique. The result of all this is that those in the profes- 
sion do not want the principle of caveat emptor to apply. 
They do not want the client to make an individual judg- 
ment about the competence of practitioners or about the 
quality of work done for him. The interaction between pro- 
fessional and client is such that the professionals strive to 
keep all serious judgments of competence within the circle 
of recognized colleagues. A licensing system adds the support 
of the state to some mechanism established by the profession 
itself for this purpose. It is as if competence became an attri- 
bute of the profession as a whole, rather than of individuals 
as such. Thus the public is to be protected from its own in- 
competence and from its own impossible demands, in that 
"quacks" — who might exploit them — will not be allowed to 
practice. And the professional, for his part, is protected from 
his own mistakes and from the allegation that he may have 

[ 142 ] Men and Their Work 

made one, by the fiction that all licensed professionals are 
competent and ethical until found otherwise by their peers. 
The profession sets up institutions which make clients' judg- 
ments of secondary importance and colleagues' judgments 
paramount. These institutions will of necessity require some 
arrangements for secret discussion. For it is shocking and pain- 
ful to clients to hear their problems discussed as objectively 
as must be in deciding whether a professional did, in fact, 
show competence and whether he acted in accordance with 
the professional code. In such discussion the question of 
competence is discussed in complete separation from the out- 
come for the client. In protecting the reputation of the pro- 
fession and the professional from unjust criticism, and in 
protecting the client from incompetent members of the profes- 
sion, secrecy can scarcely be avoided. Secrecy and institutional 
sanctions thus arise in the profession as they do not in the 
pure science. 

I have dwelt upon the professional conception because it 
is so highly valued in the western world, and especially in 
North America. The people, or some people, in many occupa- 
tions have sought to have their work conform to the profes- 
sional model and to be known by the professional name. 
Social workers, librarians, and many business occupations 
have tried it. The steps taken are much the same in the various 
instances. Courses of study are established, and, if possible, 
professional schools are founded and attached to universities. 
Prerequisites are required so that a person entering the oc- 
cupation must decide to do so earlier. Eventually some body is 
set up to accredit schools and specify the curriculum. Devices 
are adopted to define more sharply who is and who is not 
properly in the occupation. Canons of proper practice, proper 
relations to clients (or employers), proper relations between 
colleagues, etc., are set up. Although the steps are essentially 
the same, the results vary greatly. The public may not accept 
the professional definitions and may continue to take their 

psychology: science and/or profession [ 143 ] 

troubles to people not admitted to the professional group. 
Employers may simply hire people without consulting the 
professional group as to their membership or competence. 
Shrines and various kinds of irregular practitioners continue 
through the ages to treat the cases which doctors declare 
either incurable or imaginary. Sometimes the curriculum of 
the professional schools may be hardened before the techniques 
have really been tested in practice or in a laboratory. This 
happened in social work and in library schools. I do not know 
whether these things have happened or will do so in psychol- 
ogy. I only point out that they are things which do happen 
in the course of professionalizing occupations. 

It is fairly evident that psychologists are torn between the 
professional and the scientific conceptions of their work. 
Only their enemies charge them with pursuit of the busi- 
ness conception. Now medicine has been plagued by this 
conflict through many years. The marriage between clinic 
and laboratory is still an uneasy one. The wonder-working 
surgeon (they do work wonders) is still not quite at ease 
with the sceptical pathologist down in the laboratory. The 
practicing physician, meeting as best he can the emergencies 
of patients who refuse to get made-to-order troubles, feels 
inferior before his patient and learned brethren of the great 
research schools and foundations; he also resents their de- 
tached, leisurely criticism of his hasty blunders. 

The medical solution, at least the one prevailing at pres- 
ent, is to instruct physicians in science but not to train them 
to be scientific investigators. Any physician who learns to 
do research in a science related to medicine, does so either 
in prolonged residencies in research hospitals or by taking 
advanced work in one or more sciences in a graduate school. 
There are people who believe that a great deal of the time 
spent in medical school is wasted, unless it be admitted that 
sheer initiation into the fraternity is a good way to have 
young men spend time. However that may be, the medical 

[ 144 ] Men and Their Work 

profession has succeeded in enforcing a highly standardized 
curriculum upon all who would be called doctors of medi- 
cine, no matter what skills and knowledge an individual 
may use in his particular branch of work. Training in sci- 
entific research comes later, for the few who want it. I do 
not know whether psychology could institutionalize its con- 
flict in such a way. But my point is not so much the par- 
ticular solution as the fact itself that there is a continuing, 
deep conflict between the model of science and that of pro- 
fessional practice of medicine. In many individuals, it is 
an ambivalence. 

I suspect that psychology's problem is of this order. I 
also think it likely that whatever solutions are arrived at 
will be compromises. They will be better compromises if 
no one has any illusions about settling the problem once 
and for all; if it is kept in mind that the conflict lies deep in 
many occupations, and that all solutions to it are tentative, 
based on limited time predictions about the effects of various 


The "Gleichschaltung" of 
The German Statistical Yearbook: 
A Case in Professional Neutrality 

The very same engineer, it is said, kept the waterworks 
of Paris going before, during, and after the French Revolu- 
tion. The architects of the great cathedrals of the middle 
ages caricatured bishops and saints in durable stone. Some 
professions, it seems, have licence to be more politically or 
ideologically detached than others; freer to hold opinions 
not those of the prevailing powers, or even — heresy of 
heresies — to hold no opinion at all on the burning issues of 
the time. Societies and epochs also quite obviously differ in 
their demands for conformity; all but the most doctrinaire 
and totalitarian societies appear to demand more conformity 
and more commitment from some kinds of people than from 

The physician is generally thought to have a large measure 
of licence to be neutral. His magic is wanted alike by believer 
and infidel. He is supposed to be as impartial as illness and 
death themselves. His diagnostic and therapeutic decisions 
are expected to be free of any extraneous influence. A certain 

The American Statistician. Vol. IX (Dec, 1955), pp. 8-11. 


[ 146 ] Men and Their Work 

halo of freedom to be neutral in other things as well as in 
his medical judgments seems to gather about his head. Yet 
his freedom is neither absolute nor complete. In the Soviet 
Union the physician who declares too many people ill enough 
to stay away from work may be called to account: 1 

The scarce and indispensable natural scientist may also 
be allowed a good deal of political neutrality, although he 
too may be questioned not merely about his opinions, but 
also about his friends. Social scientists perhaps require more, 
but expect less of such freedom. Among them it is perhaps 
those who deal exclusively with the numbers and movements 
of goods and people who would consider themselves most 
neutral. They might also think their jobs — whether they work 
in universities or in government bureaus — most safe from 
variable high winds of social doctrine, from the coming and 
going of parties, and even from the vicissitudes of revolution. 
Will not any government need statistical information of un- 
questioned reliability in making and executing its policies? 

Such thoughts came to my mind when, in the summer of 
1953, my eye caught this heading of a table in the Statistical 
Yearbook of the German Reich for 1941-2: "Racial Class- 
ification of People Who Married in 1938." It was the last 
such Yearbook published by the National Socialist Govern- 
ment of Adolf Hitler. From earlier work with German official 
statistics, I was practically certain that the pre-Nazi German 
had had a religion, but not a race. The statistical German was 
the opposite of the statistical American, who had a race but no 
religion. The accident of noticing this change of categories 
in the German census led me to ask a question: What changes 
did the statistician of the German Reich have to make in his 
official Yearbook when the Nazis came to power? Behind 
it lie more general questions for professional statisticians: How 
politically neutral is their work? To what extent are the very 

1. Field, Mark G., "Structured Strain in the Role of the Soviet Physi- 
cian," American Journal of Sociology. LVIII (March, 1953), pp. 493-502. 


categories in which they report their data subject to political 

I do not know the answers to these general questions. 
But I did go through all of the German statistical yearbooks 
from the last one of the pre-Nazi Weimar Republic, 1932, 
through the Nazi period, and including the first post-war vol- 
ume, to see what changes of category and of reporting oc- 
curred along with the radical political changes. I don't know 
how deeply the Nazis dug into the private opinions of the 
Reich statistician, or whether Party people were put in his 
office to watch over him. I have only the internal evidence 
of the Statistical Yearbooks themselves. The last Weimar 
volume, and all of the Nazi Yearbooks except the last are 
signed by one Dr. Reichardt of the Reich Statistical Office. 
The last Nazi volume, 1941-42, is signed Godlewski. Whether 
Dr. Reichardt simply reached the age of retirement about 
the end of 1940 or whether he finally turned out to be not 
sufficiently gleichgeschaltet (coordinated), I don't know. 
Many a man did try to get on with his work by making little 
compromises, only to find one day that it was impossible to 
continue and fatal to quit. I must add that I do not know 
what happened to Godlewski either; he certainly did not 
sign the first Yearbook of the new Bonn republic. 

The Foreword to the last pre-Nazi Yearbook, 1932, is 
the exact, dull little statement one expects of a faithful public 
servant who is accustomed to going modestly on with his 
work while prime ministers and cabinets come and go. It 
contains no word about parties or government policies. It 
uses no political symbol. When, in November, 1933, Dr. 
Reichardt signed the next Yearbook, Hitler had been Reichs- 
chancellor for the better part of a year. The Foreword takes 
no notice of the change. It is the same little businesslike 
statement about the contents of the book. In the next Fore- 
word, 1934, however, Dr. Reichardt feels called upon to tell 
the reader that the Yearbook now contains a series of "German 

[ 148 ] Men and Their Work 

economic curves, showing the economic events since the 
taking over of power by the National Socialist regime." In 
1935, the mention becomes a plug, "In the many tables of 
the Yearbook there come to expression the powerful accom- 
plishments made by the New State in all fields of folk and 
economic life in the three years since the taking over of 
power by the National Socialist regime." He especially notes 
the great success of measures against unemployment. In pass- 
ing he mentions some new family statistics, and tables on the 
Special Census of the Occupational and Social Distribution 
of Glaubensjuden (Jews by faith) and Foreigners. 

From 1935 on, the Foreword always tells how many 
years it has been since the National Socialists took power, 
and reports in more and more glowing terms the accomplish- 
ments of the New State. The statement is typically like this, 
"The Yearbook gives an accounting in sober, but eloquent 
figures of the measures taken by the New State in all fields 
of folk and economic life, and the results in population, 
economics and in cultural and political affairs." Dr. Reichardt 
even notes that the Yearbook has to be bigger because of the 
increased activity of the New State. From 1936 on, curves 
showing economic progress are put on the inside of the front 
cover where they are the first thing to be seen when one 
opens the book. In 1938 the flyleaf shows a map entitled 
"Folk and Space since the Assumption of Power." It shows 
how the empire has been expanded by the assimilation of 
Austria and Sudetenland. In 1939-40, a similar map shows 
most of Western Europe under German "protection." Under 
the map is a summary table showing the increase of territory 
and population accomplished by the New State. Dr. Reichardt 
tells us in his 1938 Foreword that the Yearbook now reports 
the Greater German Reich; he regrets that not many of the 
tables take account of the new territories, since comparable 
statistics do not yet exist. The last two books, done in war- 
time, no longer bother to plug for the New State. A brief 


Foreword says that the Yearbook was produced under dif- 
ficulties, "because the needs of the State and the Party require 
it." Readers are enjoined, under penalty, to keep copies in 
metal safes and to divulge the contents to no one not in 
government service. 

The 1932 Yearbook shows the results of all Reichstag 
elections from 1919 to 1932, with the number of votes for 
each party. The most recent election, that of July 31, 1932, 
was reported in even greater detail. The 1933 book gives 
the same summary of past elections, and includes the detail 
of two new elections. One was the election of November, 

1932, in which there was a considerable decline of the Nazi 
vote. In spite of that, Hindenburg had called upon Hitler to 
form a government. The other was the election of March, 

1933, the only free election in the Hitler time; in it the Social 
Democrats held their own, the Catholic Centre gained a 
little, and the Nazis gained tremendously. The Communists 
apparently contributed most to the Nazi increase, since they 
lost a million votes from November, before Hitler came in, 
to March, just after he came to power. But this is an aside. 
The Yearbook merely reports the figures. In 1934 and after, 
each Yearbook reports only the new-style Yes and No elec- 
tions of the current year. I do not know whether Dr. Reichardt 
was told to stop reporting the elections of the late Weimar 
Republic, or whether he gave it up for purely technical reasons. 
It would make no sense to try to compare the results of free 
elections in which a dozen or more parties struggled for 
slight gains in their popular vote and for more seats in parlia- 
ment with those of the new style, high-pressure plebiscites 
in which the choice was to be for or against Hitler. Maybe 
Dr. Reichardt was not coordinated on this point; it was suf- 
ficient that the elections were coordinated. 

But this Yearbook did not even bother to compare the 
Nazi elections with one another. Perhaps the Nazis missed 
a propaganda chance here; for it is quite an accomplishment 

[ 150 ] Men and Their Work 

to increase a party's vote from 43.9% of the total to 95.3% 
in the course of a few months, as did the Nazis between March 
and November, 1933. Of course, the percentage for the 
Fuehrer dropped back to 89.9% in August, 1934, but they 
soon got it up again. In 1936, 99.5% of all qualified voters 
did their duty, and 98.8% did it right by casting ballots "For 
the List and for the Fuehrer." There were by now so few 
negative votes that the statistical office simply lumped them 
together with the invalid ballots. After the great success in 
getting an expression of the people's will to follow the leader 
in 1936, there was no new plebiscite until the empire had 
expanded to take in more of the German folk. In April, 1938, 
the Austrians were allowed to show how devoted they were 
to the Fuehrer and how glad to be absorbed by the New 
State. The Sudeten Germans were given the same privilege 
in due time. After that there were no plebiscites. The war 
was on. But in the reporting of 1938 elections in the 1939 
Yearbook a slight change was made. What had been called 
Austria in 1938 was now called "former Austria." One must 
remember that the German name for Austria means Eastern 
Empire, obviously not a fit name for a rather insignificant 
part of the all-inclusive eternal Greater German Empire. 

Race in the pre-Nazi Yearbooks, was a characteristic of 
stallions. The number of their registered services for the 
propagation of their respective races was faithfully recorded 
in the agricultural part of the book. Men, on the other hand, 
had religion. They were Christians of Protestant or Roman- 
Catholic confession, or they were Israelites. That took in most 
Germans; a handful of others were lumped together. The 
1932 book showed how many of each of these categories 
had lived in various parts and in the whole of Germany in 
1910 and in 1925. The only other tables of religion are 
those which show the religion of each partner in all marriages 
of the previous year. Religion is indirectly shown in the 
tables of membership in trade unions and professional organ- 


izations, for some such organizations were Catholic or Protes- 
tant. None was specifically Jewish. In the first Hitler Year- 
book, 1933, the references to religion are exactly as before — 
with one exception. The trade unions had already been 
dissolved. The book listed the divisions of the new Labor 
Front, but regretted that membership figures were not yet 
available. They were not in the next book, or the one after 
that, or ever. Perhaps, since all workers belonged to the 
Labor Front by definition, it would have been silly to give 
figures; they would have been the same as the f ures of 
people employed in each occupation and industry. 

The expressions Jew, Jewess, and Jewish do not occur 
in the pre-Nazi books or in the first Hitler Yearbook, 1933. 
Some people were of Israelite religion; some men and women 
of Israelite religion were married to women and men of the 
same religion or of Protestant, Roman Catholic or other 
faiths. That was all. The 1934 Yearbook reports a new reli- 
gious Census made in 1933, and compares the religious 
composition of the population of that year with that of 1925. 
The 1910 comparison was dropped. The same words are 
still used for the various religions. But in 1935, although the 
same figures and the same words were used, there is a whole 
new set of tables which tell us all about some people called 
Glaubensjuden, of whom a special census had been taken 
on the 16th of June, 1933. They must be the same people 
who were formerly of Israelite religion, because there are 
exactly as many of them. But the change is more than one of 
name. The 1935 Yearbook picks these Glaubensjuden out 
for special attention not given people of other religions. We 
are shown what percent Jews form of the population in all 
geographic divisions; how many of them live in cities of more 
than 100,000, more than 50,000 and so on. The Jewish 
populations of Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Breslau and a 
few other large cities are shown in a separate table. The 
places of birth of Jews are tabulated, also the number and 

[ 152 ] Men and Their Work 

percent of them who are of German or foreign birth, and 
subjects of Germany or of other countries. 

By this time, the Nuremberg laws had made a distinction 
between people who are subjects of Germany and those who 
are citizens. The Jews were subjects but could not be citizens. 
No such facts are presented for the population at large, or for 
Protestants or Catholics. It is clear that statistics on the Jews 
are of special interest to the government. We may fairly 
assume that the statistician had been told to prepare special 
data on Jews — and to change their names. The name Glaub- 
ensjuden (Jews by faith) is still one without racial connota- 
tion. Only in the tables on marriages and the religion of 
people who were born or who died in Prussia were there 
still people of Israelite religion. In fact, Israelites continued 
to be born, get married, and to die right down until 1939-40, 
while people called "Jews by faith" had occupations and 
lived in various places. In the 1939-40 Yearbook this name 
is dropped, and tables give us some new categories which 
take account of the finer distinctions of the Nuremberg laws: 
Jews, Jewish mixtures of the first degree and Jewish mixtures 
of the second degree in all parts of Germany, including 
Austria, for 1939. The same book still gives a table on the 
religion of the people, including Israelite. But in 1941-42, 
there is no longer an Israelite religion in German statistics. 
The religious categories are Protestant, Roman Catholic, 
Believers in God, and others. The Gleichschaltung of the 
statistics is complete. Jews are a race, not a religious group. 
German statistical segregation is also complete. Jews appear 
nowhere as simply another category of people in tables which 
include other Germans. There is one little exception: the 
good old Prussian vital statistics still show that people of 
Israelite religion are born and die. The Prussian civil servant 
is a stubborn fellow. He does his duty, come what may. Or 
maybe no one issued a new form for recording births and 


deaths in Prussia, and the officials just had to go on using 
the old ones. 

Of all Israelite women married in 1930, one in eight 
married a Christian; of Israelite men, one in four married a 
Christian. From 1933 on, these proportions constantly de- 
creased. In 1936, about one in fifty married out. The people 
of Germany were being gleichgeschaltet; but the statistical 
Yearbook stuck to its old form of reporting marriages by 
religion. Only in 1939-40 does racial reporting take the place 
of religious in marriage tables. There is in the book of that 
year a table showing the "Racial Classification of People 
Who Married in 1938." Marriage partners are now of five 
kinds: German-blooded, Jewish mixtures of the first degree, 
Jewish mixtures of the second degree, Jews and Jewesses, 
and persons of other foreign blood. Twenty-five German- 
blooded men married Jewesses, and thirty-three Jewish men 
married German-blooded women in that year. But these 
traitors to German blood were nearly all of foreign nation- 
ality; in 1939, no German-blooded subject of the Reich 
married a Jew or Jewess. Gleichschaltung both of marriage 
and marriage statistics was complete. 

The Reich statistician was prodded, I suspect, into setting 
up tables and graphs to show at a glance the progress of 
the New State's program of prosperity and territorial expan- 
sion. He never showed in a summary and graphic way the 
success of the program to rid the country and the folk of 
foreign (Jewish) blood. One has to dig the facts out from 
many tables. In 1910 there were 538,909 people of Israelite 
religion in the Reich; 564,379 in 1925; 499,682 in 1933. 
One can also figure it out that in 1939 there were 451,451 
of the people called Jews, Jewish mixtures of the first degree 
and Jewish mixtures of the second degree in the new Greater 
Germany. The Nazi regime could have taken credit for most 
of the decrease of Jewish people between 1925 and 1933, 

[ 154 ] Men and Their Work 

and certainly they could claim as their own the whole decrease 
of 48,000 between 1933 and 1939. They could have made 
their success more impressive by reminding the reader that 
the new Germany of 1939 included new eastern territory in 
which many Jews had lived. They could have shown in a 
more prominent place the reduction in percentage of Jewish 
population. In 1910 and 1925 nearly one German in a 
hundred had been a Jew; in 1939, only about one in 190. 
The Yearbook could also have made a better story out of 
emigration. It reported only those emigrants who went over- 
seas, and failed to tell how many of them were Jews rather 
than people of true German blood. This was corrected in 
later books; for the years 1937, 1938, and 1939 Jewish 
overseas emigrants are shown separately from others. Until 
then the total number of overseas emigrants per year had 
remained between 12,000 and 15,000 since before the Nazi 
time. Emigration overseas was 14,203 in 1937; 22,986 in 
1938; 25,818 in 1939. One can see in a separate table that 
7,155 of the emigrants in 1937 were Jews; 16,561 in 1938, 
and 22,706 in 1939. The reader has to figure out for himself 
that while in 1937 only half the emigrants were Jews, over 
90% of them were Jews in 1939. In still another table, the 
reader could learn that true Germans were actually coming 
home from overseas in greater number than they were leav- 
ing. In 1939, only 3,1 12 people not of Jewish blood emigrated 
overseas, while 10,455 came back to live or die under the 
New Order. The statistician could have put these things all 
together so that a person could follow with pride the purifying 
of his folk. But no; he reported it only bit by bit, grudgingly. 
He did a little better for Prussia. Prussia, in its old-fash- 
ioned way, kept right on reporting births and deaths by reli- 
gion, and persisted in considering that there was an Israelite 
religion — a fallacy that the New State had given up. If this 
kind of reporting had been done for all of Germany, one could 
have had an ideal record of the progress of the liquidation of 


the Jews. As it is, we do know from various tables that there 
were 370,348 Prussian Israelites in 1910; 404,446 in 1925; 
361,826 Prussian Jews by faith in 1933; and 233,727 Jews, 
Jewish mixtures of the first and second degrees in the larger 
Prussia in 1939. Some measure of success is seen in the fact 
that actually one person in a hundred was a Jew in 1925 in 
Prussia, but only about half a person in a hundred in 1939. 
But how was the success achieved? Through encouraging 
emigration and the death rate? Or by discouraging the birth 
rate? One has to work hard to get some idea of the weights 
of these various methods. By using a lot of tables and making 
some assumptions of the kind that statisticians make, one 
can estimate that about 42,000 Prussian Jews emigrated over- 
seas from 1933 to the end of August, 1939. As to the births, 
2,100 children were born to Jewish mothers in Prussia in 
1933, and about 100 to other mothers but of Jewish fathers. 
The births decreased steadily until 1939, when only 478 were 
born to Jewish mothers and less than fifty to other mothers 
and Jewish fathers. This was a good solid reduction of 75% 
in the number of Jews being produced by birth. But that is 
a slow method of liquidation. It depends too much upon the 
life-span. In the meantime, in spite of the smaller number of 
Jews left in Prussia, the death figure held up very well. In 
1933, when there were 361,826 Jews in Prussia, 5,565 died. 
The number of deaths remained above 5,000 a year right 
along. In 1938, for instance, 5,632 died. 

In 1939 the number of deaths weakened a little to 5,182. 
But since there were then only 233,727 Jews and mixtures 
left in Prussia, the death rate was more than holding its own. 
Just think of it: the Jewish population was down 128,099 
in six years, a good 35%, without making a dent in the 
number of Jews who died every year! A pretty good record, 
all in all, when one remembers that the big campaign had not 
really started yet. But the statistician should have saved the 
reader all this trouble. He should have coordinated his statis- 

[ 156 ] Men and Their Work 

tics about this program of the New State, just as for others. 
I begin to think he wasn't really gleichgeschaltet at all. It is 
too late for him to make it good now. The 1941-42 Yearbook 
was the eighth and last put out by the 1,000-Year Reich. 

To be sure, a new series of Yearbooks has been started. 
The first is out: Statistical Yearbook of the German Federal 
Republic, 1952. It looks a lot like the old ones. The Foreword, 
signed by one Dr. Gerhard Fuerst, is short and businesslike. 
He tells of the technical difficulties caused by loss of records 
and by changes in boundaries. A lot of the tables are devoted 
to the many refugees from the east. The New State of the 
Nazis, like the new eastern-zone Democratic German Re- 
public, exported refugees. The new western Federal Republic 
of Germany receives refugees. 

The new western statistical German has lost his race and 
got back his religion. Some of them even belong to "the 
Jewish religious community." Not many; just 17,116 as com- 
pared with 103,293 in the same territory in 1939. I am glad 
to say that the new statistician doesn't even try to tell us what 
happened to the others. I wish him well, and hope he will 
never have to face the problems of his immediate predecessors. 


Professional and Career Problems 

of Sociology 

Sociology, being itself a social phenomenon, may be studied 
as one. One might try to find out, for instance, what the 
circumstances are under which people want to study human 
society in the way called sociological, those under which 
they are allowed to do so, and those under which they may 
publish and otherwise use their findings. Our discussion of 
the training and professional activities assumes some freedom 
in these matters. We have before us questions of narrower 
range, but nonetheless of great practical importance; ques- 
tions about the organization of sociological activity. For my 
remarks on some of these problems I take as my cue the term 

Profession has in English a rather more special meaning 
than has the same word in French and its counterpart, Beruj, 
in German. A profession is an occupation which has attained 
a special standing among occupations. In the Western world, 
and more so in the English-speaking part of it, many occupa- 
tions have sought this status in recent decades. At the same 
time a great many new subdivisions of learning and scientific 

Transactions of the Second World Congress of Sociology. Vol. I, 1954. 
Pp. 178-85. 


[ 158 ] Men and Their Work 

investigation have arisen. The people who have founded 
and/or pursue these new branches have also sought for their 
subjects and for themselves a place in the academic and 
scientific world like that of other, older branches, but separate 
from them. So numerous are these new occupations and 
branches of learning that one may compare the steps they 
take to achieve their end of attaining professional status, and 
thus arrive at a general description of the process of profes- 
sionalizing an occupation. Against such a background one 
may see with more detachment and perhaps with more pen- 
etrating vision the situation and problems of organized 

The first people to practise a new line of work come into 
it from other occupations. Youngsters do not ordinarily es- 
tablish new occupations; it is done by more mature people 
who see a new need or a new opportunity. Sometimes they 
slip over into a new activity without thinking of it as an 
occupation, and are only later aware of the significance of 
the change. In other cases they are apostles, full of enthusiasm 
and charism, spreading the light of new knowledge and a 
new cause. 

At some point these irregulars, having become aware of 
themselves as a new group with a social identity, set about 
setting the terms of entry of their successors, the second gen- 
eration. Almost invariably they seek to straighten the career 
line. They set up devices to require their successors to choose 
the occupation earlier, to make them follow a set course of 
study and training, to enter into the work as a sole and con- 
tinued way of making a living, and to do the work under 
institutional arrangements defined and enforced by the mem- 
bers of the occupation. On the social psychological side they 
insist that the individual accept identification with the occupa- 
tion as part of his definition of himself, as a significant and 
persistent answer to the self-put question, "Who am I?" and 
the question put by others, "Who are you?" The true members 


of the aspiring profession will be thought to be those who 
enter it early, get the conventional training, work at the trade, 
identify themselves with its collective activities, and leave it 
only when they leave off working altogether. A person who, 
once in the charmed circle, leaves it, thereby slights the pro- 
fession as a whole. He makes light of dedication to it and 
calls down upon himself that anger which reaches its extreme 
in the attitude toward a priest who gives up the cloth. The 
professional group seeks to become an enduring thing in two 
senses; first, in that membership in it should be enduring and, 
second, in that the group itself lasts as a known and accepted 
organ of society. 

In this latter aspect, the professional group will claim 
the mandate to select, train, initiate and discipline its own 
members and to define the nature of the services which they 
will perform and the terms on which they will perform them. 
If possible, they will extend this mandate to the point of 
monopoly, excluding others from performing their kind of 
work, and seeking the exclusive prerogative of defining the 
proper relations (ethic) between the professionals and all 
other people concerned in their work. In its full form, the 
mandate will include the function of developing a philosophy 
for society at large concerning the whole area of thought, 
value and action involved directly or even remotely in their 
work. How far these mandates will be realized depends upon 
many circumstances, including competition and conflicts with 
other occupations and interests. 

The course of a new branch of learning is rather like that 
of a new occupation which, indeed, it tends to become. Part 
of its course will depend upon how much it becomes involved 
in the giving of services to individual clients, or to institutions 
or the public as collective clients. If it is closely related to a 
service it will seek to follow the model of a profession, as just 
outlined. If it gives no immediate service it may follow the 
model of older so-called pure sciences. In this case the group 

[ 160 ] Men and Their Work 

may not strive so hard to close its ranks or to seek a monopoly 
from society. In America the psychologists are in a conflict 
as to whether psychology will be primarily a science or pri- 
marily a profession. I do not suggest that they have a choice. 
The logic of circumstances will almost certainly require them 
as a group to be both, although some individuals may be 
purely scientific experimenters while others are therapists. I 
suspect it is the fate of sociology to suffer a similar chronic 
conflict. It may not be so acute, as sociology is not likely to 
be used as an instrument of individual therapy to such an 
extent as psychology. But if our problem of defining profes- 
sional relations with individual clients is less acute, our rela- 
tions with institutions, the state and society are likely to be 
more trying. Although many sociologists would like to con- 
sider their work politically neutral, it is not considered so 
by those who make revolutions of right or left, or by those 
who have special interests in the things we study. However 
strongly we may emulate the model of pure science, claims 
for applying our knowledge and the fact that what we learn 
is never a matter of social indifference will continue to put 
us into the position of people who give a service (or do a 
disservice) to our client, society. We cannot decide once and 
for all to be completely a profession or completely a science. 
The problem is chronic, as are all the basic problems with 
which professional groups have to deal. The basic parts of 
any professional code concerns such problems, those which 
cannot be settled once and for all, but for which — within the 
limits of lasting principles — different solutions have to be 
found according to the circumstances of time and place. We 
should, as an international society, be very chary of trying 
to determine in any detail solutions to apply to all of the many 
countries and situations in which sociologists have to work. 
In America, at least, we have already gone far upon the 
road of professionalizing our occupation in one respect. We 
are pushing the point of crucial decision to enter upon socio- 


logical study back to an ever earlier point in the schooling, 
hence in the life, of the individual. This is justified by the 
contention that, as our methods develop, the prerequisite 
knowledge and skills become greater. With more to be learned, 
if the age of completing training remain the same, the start- 
ing point must be earlier. This argument is hard to answer. 
One must, however, take care to distinguish between conven- 
tional and strictly necessary prerequisite training. It is very 
easy to let prerequisites degenerate into a device to enforce 
early choice and to ensure proper indoctrination of potential 
members of an occupation or academic branch. Great is the 
temptation to raise the status of our subject by proving that 
it takes as long to become a sociologist as to become a physi- 
cist or physician. The best proof is simple; one makes it a 
rule. I doubt very much whether we know the best possible 
prerequisite training for sociologists. And since we are still 
a new and exploring subject we probably should not harden 
our programme of training too much lest we thereby also 
harden our subject and methods. 

Furthermore, we do not know what effect early choice 
of sociology as a field of professional study will have upon 
the kinds of persons who will elect the field. It may be early 
choice would draw in people of some one bent, with a tend- 
ency toward selecting for study only those problems and 
toward using only those methods which fit the concept of 
sociology crystallized in the conventional prerequisites. Stu- 
dents entering medical schools show a tendency to pick those 
specialties which are well known and which are vaunted by 
their teachers as embodying the true model of medical prac- 
tice. Choice of others, such as psychiatry, psychosomatic 
medicine, epidemiology and public health, often comes quite 
late and after some ripening experience in which the young 
man, in effect, unlearns some things and sets out upon a new 
and less well-charted course of new learning. If we set the 
point of crucial decision to enter sociology too early, we 

[ 162 ] Men and Their Work 

may prevent that later change of interest which has given 
us so many of the best sociologists. For sociology is analogous, 
in this regard, not to a profession, but to a specialty within 
the larger profession of studying human affairs. If we apply 
rigid rules of entry to training, we may limit too much the 
circulation of people, hence of minds, from one branch of 
social science to another. Since ours is still one of the less 
known branches, we stand to gain from second and third 
choices. Furthermore, it may well be that interest in scientific 
analysis of societies in sociological terms is a mature one, 
a by-product of other training and experience. Our problem 
is to develop devices for training people to a high level of 
theoretical and technical competence without too much re- 
striction of circulation from one branch of social science 
and experience to another, and without forcing the choice 
to a too early age. 

There is a problem of circulation of sociologists later 
in their careers as well as during their training. An occupation 
in course of becoming a profession (and a new branch of 
learning in course of finding its place) will strive to solve 
the related problems of circulation and careers in two dimen- 
sions at the same time. On the one hand they will seek to 
set up strong and clear boundaries between their occupation 
and all others, and to develop career opportunities for those 
within. On the other hand, they will complement this clear 
bounding with an attempt to make the profession more uni- 
versal, so that the professional may carry on his work in a 
greater variety of situations; so that his skill may meet the 
needs of any client whatsoever or so that his methods of 
investigation (in the case of a science) may be applied any- 
where and at any time with equal validity. In the purest case 
the professional would do work which he alone can do, and 
the work would be of a kind wanted everywhere by all men; 
a maximum of specific bounding would be matched by a 
maximum of universality. Armed with his special qualifica- 


tions, the ideal professional could go from job to job, client 
to client, place to place, and from country to country; so 
could the pure scientist. I suppose the best living model of this 
is the profession of medicine. Physicians have come as close 
as one can easily imagine to excluding all others from practise 
Df their profession. They also perform a service that may be 
conceived as universal in character and as universally wanted. 
Actually, even in this case the reality does not completely 
:orrespond to the model. The boundaries between physical 
llness and spiritual illness are not clear and the definitions 
)f illness and health vary from society to society. Sick people 
may want a doctor of their own kind, and not willingly accept 
strangers. Other people than physicians also share the treat- 
ment of people's troubles. Furthermore, the doctor's knowl- 
edge and skills are not completely universal. Some of them 
refer to the illnesses endemic in his own country. Finally, 
doctors in one country or place will not willingly allow 
strangers to come among them and compete for clients. So 
that, even this most specific and universal of professions does 
not achieve full monopoly as against other occupations and 
does not allow completely free circulation of professionals 
from place to place and situation to situation. The case of 
medicine shows that even in the extreme case the solutions 
are relative, not absolute. How sharply should and can sociol- 
ogists in fact be set off as a peculiar group with specific careers 
reserved to them alone? How universal can their knowledge 
and skills of investigation be made? Consequently, in how 
large an area may they move around freely in course of their 
careers? I will discuss the last question first, and then return 
to the other one. 

Of recent years there has been a healthy moving around 
of sociologists. We have met one another, held such meetings 
as this, worked in one another's universities and institutes. 
In some countries we have profited from the forced migration 
of sociologists from other countries. Perhaps we are closer 

[ 164 ] Men and Their Work 

to developing a universal conception of sociological study 
than ever before. On the other hand it is likely that most 
sociological careers will be confined to one country. Some 
sociologists will circulate in two or three closely related 
countries. A very few will move about in a really wide space. 
More will visit other countries for varying lengths of time. 
While the theoretical systems and the basic techniques for 
studying society should be universal, most sociologists get 
familiar with the historic conditions of one or two countries, 
with certain specific problems or institutions and with certain 
social changes in the setting of their own country or region. 
The methods may be universal; the data to which they are 
applied are historical. 

In one sense a sociologist — as Robert E. Park used to 
say — tells the news, although in a more exact way and also 
in a more general and abstract way than do newspapers. It 
is not likely that we will ever be free of the demand that we 
show special interest in and knowledge of the conditions and 
changes in the world around us. For one thing observation 
of the human data on which we base our theoretical analysis 
depends generally on fairly intimate contact with persons 
and institutions. While playing the role of the timeless and 
disinterested outsider is an important item in the repertoire 
of the social scientist, it is not the whole of it. Our role 
requires also intense curiosity and personal concern about the 
people and problems studied. I predict that for these reasons, 
and for the more embarrassing one that even sociologists 
may be slightly ethnocentric and perhaps even concerned 
about foreign competition, most sociological careers will be 
played out within national boundaries. 

Then comes the question of the possibility of having 
careers within countries, or regions of two or more countries 
which make up effective circulating areas. The possibilities 
obviously depend both upon the institutional organization of 
academic and scientific activities within a given country and 


upon the size of the area. America, north of the Mexican 
border, forms a vast area with essentially the same institu- 
tional forms and with a great demand for people who go by 
the name of sociologist. The career possibilities are great. 
A young man may be fairly sure that he may choose from 
among a number of open places when he finishes his training, 
and that he may from there on move about from position to 
position to suit his talents and his special interests. If he does 
not succeed in getting a position where he may do specialized 
research, or if he does not wish to do so he can be ome one 
of the army of college teachers. College teaching absorbs 
many who are called, but not quite chosen. The number of 
positions in better known universities, in research organiza- 
tions and in agencies which want people who can apply 
sociological knowledge are themselves numerous enough so 
that no competently trained and talented sociologist need 
want for a choice of jobs. In these circumstances there is 
ample opportunity for circulating careers within a fairly 
closely defined profession of sociologists (although it is still 
questionable how closely the professional group should be 

Many of our ideas concerning the professionalizing of an 
academic subject rest upon the assumption of such a large 
market. But the academic market for all subjects is small in 
many countries and especially so for a new subject such as 
sociology. Generally speaking, there is no great absorbing 
institution for sociologists in other countries as in the United 
States and Canada. The sociologist cannot be absorbed by 
the European Gymnasium or Lycee as easily as by the Ameri- 
can college. One of the problems of a new and fairly special- 
ized subject in a small country is precisely the possibility of 
absorbing those who study the subject, but who do not im- 
mediately — if ever — enter upon the main career line in 
which the training would be used. In French Canada, for 
instance, there are three universities. Sociology is new in 

[ 166 ] Men and Their Work 

them. Once the few positions are filled there will not be 
places for an annual crop of talented young men trained as 
specialists in sociology. But without an annual crop of talented 
young people the subject itself languishes. Without a position 
in which he can use his knowledge and skill the young man 
languishes; or he finds another kind of place, and his skill 
languishes. The problem might be solved by increasing the 
area in which the individual may circulate in course of his 
career. We have already raised that question. It might also 
be solved by combining sociology with other activities, which 
means some departure from the ideal of complete professional 
specialization. For the model of complete specialization im- 
plies a large market. Even in the large market, it is not 
completely realized in many occupations. Nor is it at all 
certain that it is the most efficient model for all kinds of 
activities. Research has never been fully separated from 
teaching in most academic subjects; in spite of all that has 
been said there is not the slightest evidence that it would be 
wise to do so. Few professions have ever achieved such 
specialization that the practitioner carries on only one activity. 
The lawyer writes a brief, but he also pleads and arbitrates. 
Priests preach, hear confessions and administer the affairs 
of the Church. Physicians diagnose, treat, and investigate. 
The historic connection of teaching and research may be 
weakened in some fields, and certainly the best balance be- 
tween them is not the same in all. But even where research 
stands alone as a professional activity, new people must be 
taught to carry it on. The connection is inescapable, although 
the weighting of the two activities in a given man's career 
may vary. There can also be other connections; as for in- 
stance, combinations of sociological research with practical 
activities of various kinds. We who are in the larger countries 
should be cautious in promoting concepts of professional 
specialization which do not suit conditions in other countries. 
(I think I can assume that we are all more interested in the 


advancement of sociological knowledge than in the advance- 
ment of a profession of sociology.) 

Specialization and the closed profession should be instru- 
ments, not ends in themselves. It may well be that sociology 
will have to be combined with other activities in many 
countries if there is to be that amount of circulation which 
will keep new recruits coming into it, and which will make 
for a large enough group of collaborators to stimulate one 
another and to get the work of sociological analysis of the 
life of the country done. 

The combination of sociology with other things that comes 
most easily to mind is that with other branches of social 
science and with the various kinds of social practice. And 
here we are back again with our problem of setting the 
boundaries of sociology, or rather, of the group of people 
called sociologists. The questions for solution are still both 
theoretical and practical. We may ask what combinations of 
sociology with other social or other sciences are best for the 
advancement of knowledge about man and society. This 
includes the basic question about what the effective divisions 
of social science will be in the future; we all know that the 
divisions of physical and biological science are not what they 
once were. The practical question — itself not free of theoreti- 
cal aspects — is that of the best institutional organisation, 
including that of the best degree of separation of the socio- 
logical career from others. All will probably agree that a 
subject will not advance well unless there are nuclei of people 
in a position to give their undivided attention to it, nor will 
it flourish without that morale which comes of being a member 
of a group with a strong sense of colleagueship and a clear 
sense of common task. The developing and strengthening of 
such nuclei is certainly a major problem for sociologists in 
many countries. Their efforts to create more chairs of sociol- 
ogy, and to get more general recognition of the subject and 
more money for teaching and research will certainly be sup- 

[ 168 ] Men and Their Work 

ported with enthusiasm by all of us. But I think it likely that 
these nuclei will function more effectively if the boundaries 
between us and related social sciences are not drawn too 
closely. Of course it is sometimes true that those closest to 
us are our bitterest opponents; nor am I unaware of the fact 
that economists and historians have sometimes effectively 
hindered the development of sociology by teaching a little 
of it themselves and pretending that no more is necessary 
(just as in the U. S. a university will hire one Negro professor 
to prove that it doesn't discriminate against Negroes). These 
dangers, like others, are chronic. I still believe that the best 
formula for sociology is to develop strong working nuclei 
of people, without drawing the boundaries too tightly be- 
tween ourselves and our colleagues in other branches of social 
science and social practice. Circulation from one branch to 
another should be easy, so far as institutional and professional 
barriers are concerned; difficult in the sense that we set high 
standards of competence for ourselves, our collaborators and 
our apprentices. Sociology began as the maverick of the 
social sciences. Bastard child of philosophy, her fatherhood 
sometimes claimed, sometimes rejected by history, sibling or 
cousin of economics, political science, anthropology and 
psychology, let her stand on the privilege of her unique par- 
entage by not following too closely the model of an exclusive 


Two Worlds: 
Social Science and the Cosmos 

First Scene 


Little Boy, with a full, cherubic, but impassive face; in 
fact, a dead pan. Speaks in a persistent monotone, dead serious. 
Often breaks in when papa speaks, but without any sense of inter- 
rupting. He is just talking on in his God-driven way. No facial 
reaction; no gestures. In fact, I think he may be a professor 
dressed up as a little boy. 

Papa, a big, important looking papa. 

Papa discovered in his library, or his office; take your pick. 
He sits at a desk cluttered with papers. He is a busy man. He 
works at home, drawing up papers for new companies and founda- 
tions and things. Why is his desk cluttered, and he an important 
man? His wife won't let him bring his secretary home, that's why. 

Little Boy stands by desk with a toy engine in his hand.] 

Little Boy: Papa, buy me a new train. 

Papa: Why son, surely the train Santa Claus brought you 
on Christmas is still new and perfectly good. (Reader, You're 
wrong. The little boy does not look pityingly at papa for his 


[ 170 ] Men and Their Work 

faith in Santa Claus. This is no ordinary smart-alec modern 

Why, when I was a little boy I thought I was lucky. . . . 

Boy: (Interrupting) I need a new train. 

Papa: Now why on earth do you need a new train? 

Boy: I am going to make some scientific experiments. 

Papa: (Getting a proud papa glint in his eye) Why, that's 
wonderful. Scientific experiments! (Dreamy-eyed) Scientific 
experiments! I always wanted to be a scientist — busting atoms, 
dissolving moons, making star dust, crumbling earth. (Haul- 
ing himself together) But money, money! Making money got 
me, and deprived me of my youth. Well, well, son, you can 
rise on the back of your poor father. But, seriously now, since 
you are interested in electricity, isn't there other equipment 
better than a train for making experiments? 

Boy: I am not interested in electricity. I need a train. 

Papa: (Disappointed) But you said you wanted to make 
experiments. Now there isn't any other kind of train except 
electric. Of course, in my day there were those old-fashioned 
key- winders. . . . 

Boy: (Cutting in, but dead pan and deliberate) Papa, 
there are lots of kinds of trains. Steam, diesel, and soon there 
will be jet and atomic-powered locomotion. 

Papa: Oh, yes, son, of course, of course, I know that, 
but we are talking about toy trains. Now. . . . 

Boy: I am not talking about toy trains. 

Papa: Look here, son, this has gone far enough. Go back 
to your play room and let me alone. I have work to do. 

Boy: But, papa, I have to make some experiments to find 
out how fast you can run a train without it flying to pieces. I 
need a train that runs from here to St. Louis with lots of 
people in it. I will probably need another one next week, too. 

(Papa nearly faints, but takes a second look at the dead 
pan of his wonder boy and, hypnotized, picks up the phone. ) 

Papa: (into phone) Miss Indispensable? Get Dick Smith, 


President of the Smoky Valley Railroad on the phone. Yes, 
I know it is after dinner in the evening. But, say, (taking an- 
other look at the boy), don't bother about the phone; go to 
his home and fetch him over here right away. 

(Fast Curtain) 

Second Scene 


Same boy, dressed up as a modern professor. Good haircut, 
shoes shined and everything. What color of suit and tie? You 
don't catch me there; he is so well dressed you wouldn't be able 
to tell. You wouldn't notice, even. He married his secretary. 

Same papa, now dressed up as Foundation official. Both are 
longer winded than before. 

Scene is the same, too, except for the portrait of an old party 
on the wall. A caption says this old party is Sylvester MakestufI, 
Foundryman and Founder. 

The desk is all clear except for one neatly bound manuscript 
all tied up with a ribbon. 

Both papa and boy — I mean, professor — discovered as before. 
Since he is dressed up as a professor, the boy is seated on a 
chair across the desk from the man. He has no toy engine in his 
hand; or has he? Suppose I just go on calling them Papa and Boy.] 

Papa: Now would you kindly explain to me a little further 
the nature of the experiments you would like to make and 
give me an estimate of what they would cost. You see, reading 
tires me (lifts ribboned manuscript and drops it, showing 
that ribbon has not been untied. Ah, this is the precious re- 

[ 172 ] Men and Their Work 

search proposal and request for money that the Boy's — / mean 
Professor 's — secretary sat up nights typing all last month.) In 
fact, my doctor has warned me against reading in any way, 
shape or form. And as for figures. . . . After all, we do have 
television these days, don't we? By the way, would you like 
to see my set? {Warming to the subject) It's a Superduper 
Nth Power. I was just watching Gorgeous Georgia when you 
came in. That's why I kept you waiting. Ha, Ha, Ha. Hope 
you didn't mind. I bet you wonder where the set is. Well, it's 
behind that third panel on the opposite wall. I just push a 
button and there it is. Don't even have to turn my head. You 
would never have guessed it was there, would you, now? Ha, 
ha, ha. You see, whoever sits where you are has his back to 
it and doesn't. . . . 

Boy: I will need about half a billion to start. 

Papa: {Awakened from his TV reverie to the smooth and 
shining nightmare in front of him) Half a billion to start? 
Huh, what's that? Oh yes, where were we? {Collecting him- 
self and assuming an impassive expression himself) Now what 
university did you say you were from? Ha, ha, ha, silly ques- 
tion, isn't it? What difference does it make? But I have to 
ask, you know. The Board members insist on it. They like 
to play games to keep them awake at meetings — sticking pins 
in a map to show where their money goes! Ha, ha — not that 
it's really their money, you know, ha, ha, ha, but they like to 
make believe. . . . 

Boy: {Interrupting) Of course, the half billion is only a 
starter. It won't last long. I will use a quarter billion to de- 
velop our experimental designs and to build equipment for 
trial runs. Then a second quarter billion will go for retooling 
our psychotrone and Polterkammer for the first real experi- 
ments on how to run the world. 

Papa: {Whose hand was restlessly feeling around for his 
television button, but suddenly was arrested by the look in 


the boy's eyes) Half a billion just for the trial experiments? 
You did say half a billion, didn't you? Never mind what uni- 
versity you came from. I'm glad you came. It gets so dull 
here in the office most days. Between you and me this job 
bores me stiff. Everybody so serious. Some nights my wife 
has to massage my face for two hours before she gets it 
loosened up enough so she can tell by my expression whether 
I am lying or not when I say I had to stay late in the office. 
Sometimes she has to smack my face to break the crust on 
it. You know, sitting here all day listening to all that stuff 
about research to save the world without looking either in- 
terested or uninterested. But you're different. You're fun. Go 
on, tell me more about the ten billions — it was ten billions, 
wasn't it? And about how you are going to run the world! 

Boy: You wouldn't understand the experiment, really. It 
is scientific. Of course, we will put it into simple graphic 
form for television later on. You can see it then. I aim to 
develop a set of encyclopedic tables for human behavior; you 
know — like the periodic tables in chemistry. We're just a new 
science, but we are ready for that phase now. We're about 
twenty years behind nuclear physics, but that is good. They 
need that much start so as to be useful to us five years from 
now. In fact, we will probably have to show them how to 
train people so they can develop their science fast enough 
to keep up with us. 

Papa: But what do you need now? 

Boy: Now? In simple language for you and your Board, 
we need a Supreme Court to experiment with. It will be ex- 
pensive; a building like the present one, but with lots of 
secret electronic equipment, gasonometers, lietesters, forget- 
ometers, boastographs, pomposodetectors, etc. We'll use much 
more eavesdropping equipment than the FBI. Oh, yes, we will 
need some Judges, too — they come high sometimes. 

Papa: Oh, I see, you want to hire some students to act 

[ 174 ] Men and Their Work 

just like Supreme Court Judges. And then you would offer 
them money and find out their price. You would use students 
instead of rats! Ha, ha, ha. 

Boy: No, we will use real Supreme Court Judges. There 
is a great deal to be learned about rat behavior in that way. 
We thought of using deans, but we couldn't get a good 
control group of rats — I mean, humans just like deans in every 
way except that they would not be deans. The demand for 
deans is too great. But it is easy to match Supreme Court 
Judges; lots more candidates than places. You can get a con- 
trol group easy if you have the money. So you can tell whether 
they're like that anyway, or whether it is because they are 

Papa: So you would set up a fake — I mean, an experi- 
mental Supreme Court and pretend to have cases tried, and 
you would be behind the wall pushing buttons and turning 
lights on and off to confuse the judges. How very original! 
But still, 20 billion is a lot of money, even for a fake court. 

Boy: I mean a real Supreme Court — The Supreme Court, 
with real cases. We could learn a lot about the legal mind 
that way. We always start with the simplest case in science. 
Then we extrapolate our knowledge to more complicated 

Papa: You mean the real Court with real Judges and real 
cases sent up by real people? 

Boy: (Remember he is insistently impassive) That would 
be just the first experiment. Of course, eventually we will have 
to depend upon astronomy. 

Papa: Astronomy? Is that a behavioral science now, too? 

Boy: Well, if we are to learn how to run this world we 
need another identical with it to experiment on. Maybe two, 
or three, in case we blow up one or two. According to the 
laws of chance, there must be several planets in the universe 
just like Earth down to the last rat. If the astronomers would 
only realize how little time there is and get out and find at 


least one of those twins of Earth, we could learn how to run 
a world. Hard to work fast with only one guinea pig. 

Papa: (Hypnotized again. Reaches for a huge check 
book and pen) Well, well, this has been a great day. My 
face is as soft and relaxed as a baby's. Hope my wife won't 
ask me where I was last night. Astronomic, I call it. Positively 
astronomic. By the way, son, which world are you going to 
experiment on, Earth or that other one the astronomers are 
going to find for you? I have to move in the spring. 



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Veblen, T. The Higher Learning in America. New York, 1918. 

Webb, S. and B. English Local Government; the Parish and the 
County. London, 1900. 

. A History of Trade Unionism, rev. ed. London, 1920. 

Weber, Max. Gesammelte politische Schriften. Munich, 1921. 

. Gesammelte Aufsaetze zur Soziologie und Sozialpolitik. 

Tuebingen, 1924. 

White, Bouck. the Book of Daniel Drew. New York, 1910. 

Whyte, William F. "Pity the Poor Personnel Man," Advanced 
Management (October-December, 1944), pp. 154-58. 

Williams, Josephine J. "Patients and Prejudice," The American 
Journal of Sociology, Vol. LI (January, 1946), pp. 283-87. 



amateur, 54, 133, 134, 140 
ambition, 42, 62-63, 67 
attitude, 26, 31-33 

and the division of labor, 35, 36, 

38, 41, 44, 55 
of professional objectivity, 82-84, 
91, 92, 94, 112, 123 

Barrett, E. Boyd, 59, 60 
Becker, Howard S., 54, 93 
Bettelheim, Bruno, 94, 96 
Bladen, V. W., 101 
Burgess, Ernest W., 9, 24 

calendar, 12, 18-20, 22 
Canada, 36, 37 

French, 14, 15, 106 
Canadian, French, 60, 106, 110 
career, 8, 9, 11, 56 
and office, 62-67, 76, 107, 108, 114 
medical, 120, 121, 125 
lines and choices, 127-29, 136, 

problems of sociologists, 162-67 
Carr-Saunders, A. M., 132 
caste, 26, 27 

Catholic (Roman), 33, 60, 66, 78, 
80, 103, 104, 106, 115 
in Statistical Yearbook of the Ger- 
man Reich, 150-52 
charism, 52, 91, 158 
Chicago, 38, 44, 51 
Chicago Real Estate Board, 23, 39, 

clergy, 27, 29-34, 61, 84, 85, see 
also priest 

client, 30, 34, 39, 40, 54, 71, 75, 82, 
88, 96, 108, 113, 131, 132 
relations with professional, 139, 
141, 142, 160, 162, 163 
code, 35, 39, 40, 45, 46, 106, 108, 

109, 140, 142, 160 
colleague, 9, 25, 33, 35, 38, 47, 61, 
66, 69, 79, 82 
relationships and mistakes, 90-98 
as definers of professional type, 

and status, 109-13, 115 
role in medical education, 121, 
122, 125, 126, 129, 131, 134 
control of profession, 139-42, 167, 
commitment, 21, 22, 60, 134-36, 145 
competition, 31, 34, 66, 72, 159 
competitor, 25, 30, 38, 40, 107, 108 
conversion, 20, 32, 33, 44 
Cooley, Charles H., 57 
cult, 96, 97, 100 

culture, 12, 13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 35, 
36, 83, 109 
medical, 116-20, 130 
custom, 37, 42, 57 
cycle, 11-21 

"dirty work," 49-52, 70-72, 122, 137 
discipline, 32, 61, 63 
division of labor, 9, 23-37 

and social role, 68-81, 91, 98 
Dix, Dom Gregory, 18 
doctrine, 18, 60 
Donovan, Frances, 25 
Drew, Daniel, 38 



Durkheim, Emile, 25, 26, 30, 86 

ecology, 25, 26, 37 

education, medical, 118-28, see also 


and routine, 54, 55, 84, 88, 104, 
ethics, 33, 39, 40, 45, 46, 159 
etiquette, 16, 36, 38, 41, 60 

family, 12 

and the division of labor, 28-32, 
37, 63, 75, 105 
Faris, Ellsworth, 9, 26 
Field, Mark G., 146 
frontier, 28, 36, 37 

Gennep, Arnold van, 13 
Germany, 47, see also Statistical 

Yearbook of the German Reich 
Glaubensjuden, 148, 151, see also 

Israelites, Jews 
Gold, Ray, 51, 91 
Gosse, Edmund, 19, 20 

Philip Henry, 19 

Hall, Oswald, 107 
Henderson, L. J., 75 
"home guard," 129, 130, 136 
hospital, 16, 52, 69, 70, 72, 76, 89, 

Negro, 113-15, 120 

and the physician's career, 128-35 
Hughes, Helen MacGill, 83 

identity, 7, 8, 22, 23, 43, 45, 120, 

130, 158 
institution, 12 

and personal vicissitudes, 14-19, 
27, 33 

and office, 56, 57, 60, 61 

career and — , 65-67 

and division of labor, 72, 75-77, 

and physician's career, 129-30 

evolving in movement to profes- 
sionalize, 131-33, 136, 142, 159, 
160, 164, 165 
Israelites, 150-55, see also Jews, 


itinerant, 31, 129, 136 

janitor, 49, 50-54 

Jews, 148, 151-56, see also Glaub- 
ensjaden, Israelites 
Johnson, James Weldon, 20 
Joshi, G. N., 36 

Lasswell, Harold D., 64 

law, 57, 70, 75 

lawyer, 71, 75, 80, 91, 95, 96, 112, 

113, 131, 132, 166 
librarian, 133, 135, 137, 142 
licence, 7 

and mandate, 78-87, 103, 104, 

119, 135, 140, 141, 145 
life-cycle, 11, 13, 14, 15, 18 
Linton, Ralph, 57 
Locke, John, 19 

Malinowski, B., 57, 58 
mandate, 7, 76 

and licence, 78-87, 83, 85, 86, 99, 

Mannheim, Karl, 67 
"marginal man," 103, 109, 110, 113, 

Marshall, T. H., 132 
Mayo, Elton, 47 
McKenzie, R. D., 37 
Mead, Margaret, 16 
medical, profession or world, see 

medicine, 34, 43, 54, 66 

and division of labor, 70, 71-73, 

75, 79, 89, 94 
as prototype of profession, 116, 

117, 129, 130, 131 
minister, see clergy 
mission, 32-34, 39, 61, 108, 122 
mistakes, 46, 47, 60 

professional. 88-101, 141 
mobility, 30, 31, 34, 40, 44, 45, 52, 

63, 67, 73, 103, 109, 110, 136, 

morale, 136, 167 
mores, 55, 57, 60, 113 

sectarian, 18, 19 

social, 7, 19, 44, 85, 99, 100, 133, 




revolutionary, 18 
musician, 49, 53, 54, 93 

National Socialists (German), 146- 

Nazis, see National Socialists 
Negro, 20, 21, 45, 104, 105 

dilemma of, 111-14 
neutrality, 48, 85 

physician's, 145, 146, 160 
North, Cecil, 27, 28, 29 

and division of labor, 72-75, 78, 
97, 126, 133, 135, 137 


role and, 56-63 

career and, 65-67, 70 
organization, social, 26-28 
organ, social, 25, 26 

Park, Robt. Ezra, 9, 103, 164 
patient, 53, 69, 74, 75 

— 's choice of physician- 104-07, 


role of — in physician's career, 
124-26, 131 
person, 56, 57 
personality, 9 

and division of labor, 23, 25, 27, 
31-33, 35-37, 41, 57, 62, 70 
personnel man, 110, 111, 114 
philanthropy, 65, 66 
physician, 9, 15, 35, 52 

division of labor among, 71-75 
— 's licence, 78-83 
— 's mistakes, 88, 91, 97 
patient's choice of, 103-05, 107 
— 's status, 111-14 
education of, 118-30, 131, 135, 
141, 143, 145, 163, 166 
Piaget, J., 59 
policy, 35, 39, 136 
prerogative, 26-28, 32, 41, 68, 73, 

83, 95, 121, 159 

and personality, 42-46, 48, 49, 52, 

58, 67 
and division of labor, 70, 72, 73, 
122, 132, 134, 136 
priest, 29, 32, 33, 55, 60 

— 's licence, 80, 81, 82, 91, 103, 
106, 159, 166, see also clergy 
prison, 52, 70, 76 
profession, 7-9 

and division of labor, 26, 29, 33- 

and self-conception, 44, 46, 48, 66 
and role, 70, 72, 75, 76 
and licence, 79, 82, 83, 85, 110, 

prototype of, 116-17 
education for medical, 118, 120- 

23, 127, 129, 130 
new — s, 131-34, 137, 140, 142 
movement to — alize, 157, 159 
sociology as, 160-68 
professional, the, 8, 34, 70, 76, 82, 
84, 86, 91, 95 
new types of, 112-15 
and medical education, 117-19, 
121, 130, 134, 135, 141, 142, 
sociologist as, 162, 163 
promoter, 40, 65 
Protestant, 33, 104, 105, 109, 150- 

Protestantism, 22 
public relations, 83 
punctiliousness, 46 
in ritual, 58, 59 

"quack," 72, 98, 125, 141 
Quebec, see Canada, French 

race, 45, 103, 105, 111 

effect on professional, 113-15 
in The German Statistical Year- 
book, 146, 150-53, 156 

real estate man, 9, 35, 38-40, 44 

realtor, 38, 39 

Redfield, Robt., 58, 60 

religion, 12, 13, 18, 19 

in The German Statistical Year- 
book, 146, 150-56 

Remmelin, Eugenia, 31 

responsibility, 13, 46 

professional, 58, 63, 64, 65, 76, 
80, 92, 93 

restriction of production, 8, 47, 76 

revival, 19, 21 

revolution, 18, 28, 160 



Riesman, David, 95 

rites, 12, 13-15, 17, 18, 20, 22 

ritual, 16, 26, 27 

and office, 58-61, 95, 96, 97 
role, 24, 47, 50, 52, 53 

and office, 56-63 

and division of labor, 68-77, 92, 
98, 113 

in medical career, 119-28, 164 
routine, 14, 46 

and emergency, 54, 55, 58, 88 

salesman, 39, 40, 42 
sanction, 36, 80, 142 
scientist, 43 

— 's licence, 81, 82, 139, 140, 146, 
163, 164 
sect, 18-20, 22, 32, 61, 84, 104, 125 
sectarian, see sect 
segment, social, 25, 26 
selection, occupational, 25, 28-30, 

53, 58, 62 
self, 43, 44, 57, 126 
sentiment, 18, 35, 60, 82, 106, 109 
Sigerist, Henry E., 117 
"significant other," 

of the physician, 125. 126, 129 
Small, Albion W., 9 
Smith, Adam, 24, 99 
Social Democrats (German), 47 
Sombart, Werner, 28, 29, 34, 37 
Sorokin, Pitirim, 31 
Soviet Union, 146 
specialization, 166, 167 
specialty, 123 

medical, 126-29, 132, 161, 162 

in sociology, 166-67 

sponsor, 128 

Statistical Yearbook of the German 

Reich, 146-56 
statistician, 146, 147, 152-56 
status, 9, 13, 15 

and person, 23, 24, 27, 33, 35, 38- 
40, 42, 43, 44, 47, 50, 53, 56-58, 
62, 63, 77, 92 
dilemmas of, 102, 103, 106, 109, 

110-15, 116 
profession's search for, 157, 158, 
stereotypes, 7, 24, 75, 106, 109, 110, 

120, 126 
Sumner, William Graham, 21, 56, 

58, 59 
symbol, 43, 49 

and ritual, 59, 60, 61, 121, 122 

Tarbell, Ida, 38 
Thomas, William I., 23, 31 
trade, 7, 13, 26, 34, 40, 49 
turning point, 11, 12, 16, 67, 130 

value, 34, 43, 44, 46, 47, 48, 82, 85, 

123, 159 
vow, 13, 21, 59-60 

Wadia, P. A., 36 
Webb, S. and B., 60, 111 
Weber, Max, 47, 60 
Whyte, WilJiam F., Ill 
Williams, Josephine, 107 
Wilson, P. A., 132 

Znaniecki, Florian, 31 







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